Need moves Koloa church to help KIFB

NAWILIWILI — When Pastor Frank Ranger visited the Kaua‘i Independent Food Bank, recently, his remark was, “You folks need help.”

Kelvin Moniz, food operations manager for KIFB, said that prompted Ranger, the pastor at St. Matthews Lutheran Church, to initiate a special contribution from the church which was hand-delivered Tuesday morning by Nalani Pierce and her children, Kiele, Caleb, Timmy, Rachel and Cecilia.

Moniz said Ranger was looking around the KIFB’s Nawiliwili facility, noticing the food going out almost as fast as it was arriving.

KIFB, in its most recent fact sheet, states 2011 has set a 16-year record in demand for food.

Since 1995, the KIFB, described in the fact sheet as the smallest food bank in the state, yet feeds the largest percentage of the total population in the county, has distributed about 12.5 million pounds of food valued at more than $19.5 million, or the equivalent of more than 16.6 million meals.

The nonprofit organization relies on more than 50 grocery and retail stores, restaurants, hotels, distributors and countless individuals to fuel its distribution which spans 54 partner agencies to distribute food around Kaua‘i, all of the agency sites being either churches, nonprofit organizations or charter schools.

In addition to getting food to people through a network of partner agencies, the KIFB offers programs in vocational rehabilitation, being named the Outstanding Employer of the Year by the state’s Department of Human Services, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation in 2009.

KIFB opened the Keiki Cafe in 2004, partnering with Boys and Girls Club, Waimea Clubhouse and the Kaua‘i Children’s Discovery Museum in providing nutritious “super snacks” to children between ages 7 through 17 throughout the school year.

For children and youth on the Eastside, KIFB initiated the Back Pack Program in 2007 in partnership with the Boys and Girls Club on the Eastside, providing food to youth between the ages of 5 through 17 in Kapa‘a and two Ni‘ihau Charter Schools in Kekaha.

Under this program, each eligible youth reeives a Back Pack filled with nutritious food to take home for the weekend.

KIFB launched the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program outreach program in 2007, working in partnership with its “Akamai Kupuna Club” to secure new food stamp dollars for those eligible for those benefits.

Since its inception, KIFB has secured more than $1.6 million in new food stamp dollars with an economic impact of more than $3 million. Recently, the reception of the SNAP prog ram moved its offices from a portable building to more permanent facilities in the same building as the KIFB facility.

KIFB is also looking ahead to September when the Electronics Benefits Transfer cards are scheduled to be accepted at select farmers markets on the island, providing the opportunity for food stamp recipients to use their EBT cards for locally-grown, fresh and healthy produce.

Moniz said the next campaign for KIFB is the Dine Out for Hunger, scheduled for Aug. 11.

St. Matthews Lutheran Church meets Sundays at 8:30 a.m. in the Koloa Library Humanitarian Room.

Pierce said previously, the church rented space from the Koloa Missionary Church, but when the church was taken down for rebuilding, they were relocated to the Koloa Library, the Koloa Missionary Church being moved to its services in the Koloa Elementary School cafeteria.

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