Volunteers help ‘so someone gets fed’

KAPA‘A — Four volunteers from Hawai‘i Foodbank Kaua‘i cleared the barrel several times within the first hour of the “Help Us End Hunger” drive, Saturday morning outside the Safeway Store in the Kaua‘i Shopping Village.

“It’s been steady,” said Michelle Panoke, one of two people heading the Hawai‘i Foodbank Kaua‘i operation. “We’ve already emptied the barrel twice and we’ll be here until 2 p.m.”

Wes Perreira of Hawai‘i Foodbank Kaua‘i said this was a smaller drive and they didn’t want to inundate shoppers with collectors.

“This drive was set up by Safeway Stores’ corporate offices,” Perreira said. “All across the nation, Safeway Stores are hosting this drive with local food banks. We didn’t want to have an army of volunteers with fish nets.”

Panoke said the drive will continue through July 24 at the Safeway store in Waipouli.

At the heart of the promotion is a special pre-packaged recyclable brown paper bag filled with a pre-determined assortment of food for the foodbank. This bag is available for a $10 contribution, payable at the Safeway checkout.

“This makes giving easy,” Perreira said. “Plus, when you see what’s in the bag, there’s easily more than $10 worth of food. Safeway Stores is absorbing the difference.”

Panoke said Hawai‘i Foodbank Kaua‘i started in July 2010, and since then, has already brought in close to 150,000 pounds of food to help feed people on Kaua‘i.

This task is being done through about 14 community agencies spread across the island.

“We get our food from both the Hawai‘i Foodbank Kaua‘i and the Kaua‘i Independent Food Bank to help get food to our clients,” said Joan Conrow, the resident services manager at the Lihu‘e Court Town Homes, who was helping volunteer Saturday.

Panoke said since Hawai‘i Foodbank Kaua‘i started, about 73,000 pounds of food has been distributed through January, equating to about 1,700 food requests each month.

Conrow asked if anyone heard the comment from an elderly lady who placed one of the Safeway bags into the barrel.

“She said, ‘We needed this when I was younger,’” Conrow said.

Similarly, another kupuna who did not realize he had to pay for the pre-packaged assortment simply handed his $10 to one of the volunteers.

“It doesn’t matter who pays,” he said. “Just so someone gets fed. That’s the important thing.”

Panoke said Hawai‘i Foodbank Kaua‘i is scheduling an open house from 5 to 7 p.m., on Aug. 11, so more people can become familiar with its offerings.

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