NAWILIWILI — Sharlene Mata wanted to come, but a trip to Washington, D.C., pulled her away.
“She said she really wanted to be here,” said Tisha Rapozo-Soares, the Model Workplace Coordinator for the Transportation Security Administration. “And I know she wanted to be here because she said it more than once.”
Unfortunately, a meeting forced the federal security administrator to change her plans, said B.J. Uegawa of TSA who was part of the delegation who brought over a cache of food totaling almost 300 pounds to the Kaua‘i Food Bank.
With the kickoff of the food bank’s holiday food and fund drive a few weeks off, the delivery was a welcome sight for Judy Lenthall, the KFB director, and Analyn Flores, the KFB treasurer.
“As you can see, our cupboards are bare,” Lenthall said. “Right now, any food is good news.”
Kelvin Moniz, the development officer for the food bank, said this was the first time TSA had conducted a food drive, and was impressed with the amount of food it collected within a period of less than two weeks.
“The effort was part of the Lihu‘e Advisory Council of TSA,” Uegawa said. “Lance Nobriga was the chair of the committee for the food drive, and the group is about giving back to the community.”
During an orientation tour for the TSA delegation, the members whose job is to provide security at the Lihu‘e Airport, discovered that the food bank does more than just distribute food.
Rapozo-Soares was impressed that one of the programs coordinated by the food bank is the Kids Cafe which started at the Boys & Girls Club, Waimea Clubhouse.
“About half of the food needed by hungry people are for kids,” Lenthall said.
Lenthall said that they discovered that some of the kids weren’t eating their Kids Cafe offering, but were saving it so they could have food over the weekend.
This discovery prompted the initiation of the backpack program in which the food bank provides kids with food they can enjoy over the weekend.
“This isn’t snacks,” Moniz said. “Sometimes, we put in a loaf of bread, some tuna, and items they can make a sandwich. Other times, it’s a couple of bags of saimin, or other food stuff.”
Uegawa said the Lihu‘e Advisory Council is committed to doing more things for the community and was pleased to be able to conduct this first food drive on behalf of TSA.
She said their next project is a beach clean-up near the Kamalani Bridge area next week.
• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@kauaipubco.