Food drive keeps cupboards stocked

NAWILIWILI — People contributed more than $9,000 and more than 1,700 pounds of food during the single-day summer food drive Saturday, hosted by the Kaua‘i Independent Food Bank.

Kelvin Moniz, KIFB food operations manager, said that equates to more than $12,000 when combined.

Judy Lenthall, KIFB director, said the summer food drive has blossomed. Its first year, she said $2,000 was collected at a single site.

“This year, we had nine different collection sites from Hanalei to Waimea,” she said. “During our second year for a summer food drive, we collected about $11,000. This year, we collected more than $9,000.”

Lenthall said KIFB provides for almost 20 percent of the county’s population to feed its families each month.

“In 2008, food demand was about 57,000 requests,” Lenthall said. “By 2010, the total requests surpassed 116,000. … We are estimating more than 150,000 requests for food in 2011.”

Lenthall said KIFB previously hosted food drives in the spring and for the holidays. With the increasing demand for food, KIFB added a summer food drive to ensure the KIFB Nawiliwili facility shelves were stocked for those in need.

She said in a typical month, KIFB distributes more than 62,000 pounds of food — enough for 83,000 meals.

“It’s crazy,” Lenthall said. “This is just like post-(Hurricane) Iniki times, but without the money and without all the volunteers. If every household on Kaua‘i donated just three cans during the drive, we would have a month’s supply to help feed the needy.”

KIFB direct service food programs include the distribution of more than 730,000 pounds of product in 2010 through an ‘ohana network of 51 distribution sites; a Keiki Cafe on the Westside which provides healthy after-school snacks for children; a Backpack Program for needy youth on the Eastside where young people can have a nutritious meal during the weekends; and the SNAP Outreach program, formerly known as food stamps.

Additionally, KIFB has been applauded for its award-winning vocational rehabilitation program with the 2009 Employer of the Year award from the state Department of Human Services. It also hosts the Plant-a-Row and Gleaning programs and is about to embark on a new program which would put EBT (SNAP) access into selected farmers markets on the island.

“For those who cannot see the hunger which exists on our beautiful Garden Island, just look to the kupuna who give whatever they have to feed ‘da kids,’ then, go without adequate nutrition for themselves,” Lenthall said. “Look at the parents who are skipping meals so their kids can have more. Hunger is not invisible if you recognize the signs before you.”

KIFB earned the 2011 Hawai‘i Better Business Bureau Torch Award for Public Charities for community trust, performance and integrity.

Lenthall said what this means is contributors to KIFB can be assured their donation meets all of the 22 strict standards in fundraising, fund management and governance.

She said KIFB is the smallest food bank in the state, yet feeds the largest population of any county in the state.

Contributions can be dropped off at the Nawiliwili facility during its operating hours.

Visit www.kauaifoodbank.org, or call 246-3809 for more information.

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