Soup kitchens receive needed funds

A pair of struggling Kaua‘i soup kitchens will be expanding their operations courtesy of Gov. Linda Lingle, who recently released a $90,000 grant-in-aid, a Tuesday press release states.

The Salvation Army Hawaiian and Pacific Islands Division will use the money to support the Kokua Soup Kitchens in Hanapepe and Lihu‘e.

“We are so, so psyched right now with the governor releasing the money,” Kokua Soup Kitchen coordinator Mary McFarland said. “It was just the answer to all of our prayers.”

McFarland described the program’s financial situation as “squeezing Lincoln until he got tears in his eyes, pinching pennies very, very hard.”

The funds will be used to supplement an emergency food pantry, as well as expand and operate two soup kitchens that feed the hungry, homeless and those in emergency or disaster situations, according to the announcement.

“With that money, we can expand our service to the community,” McFarland said.

Currently, dinner is served Mondays in Hanapepe and Tuesdays in Lihu‘e, while lunch is served Thursdays in Lihu‘e.

McFarland said the grant would allow the program to reinstate Wednesday lunches in Hanapepe — recently abandoned due to lack of funds — as well as possibly add a meal on Fridays and Saturdays, doubling the current service and helping feed the island’s hungry six days a week.

She estimated that each hot meal, prepared and served by volunteers, costs $2 or $3 per client, with sometimes upward of 100 in attendance.

“For so many of our clients, that’s their one meal (for the day),” McFarland said.

Since April 2006, the statement says, the Kokua Soup Kitchen program has served more than 8,000 hot meals to Kaua‘i residents in need, including low-income elderly, veterans, families living below the poverty level, and homeless men, women and children.

“The Salvation Army’s work in feeding and caring for the homeless and others in need provides a valuable service to the community,” Lingle says in the statement. “This grant will support the efforts of many Kaua‘i volunteers and private sector partners who contribute to the success of this important program to ensure basic human needs are met.”

The state grant will supplement private funding sources to operate the program, including monetary and food donations, in-kind volunteer services, and private grants from charitable foundations, churches and businesses, according to the release.

• Michael Levine, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 252) or mlevine@kauaipubco.com

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