Kaua‘i food bank sets $100,000 goal for spring drive

LIHU‘E — The Kaua‘i Independent Food Bank set a goal for this year’s Island Wide Spring Food Drive at $100,000 and 100,000 pounds of food for Kaua‘i’s hungry.

Norma Barton, the food bank’s interim executive director, and Kelvin Moniz, the director of food resources for the Kaua‘i Independent Food Bank (KFIB), made the announcement Thursday  during the 18th Annual Mahalo Celebration for food partner distribution volunteers and contributors.

The drive starts Thursday and runs through April 30.

Moniz said all food and funds raised on Kaua‘i by the KIFB remains on the island to help feed the hungry.

Rowena Cobb, the KIFB board president, said the emphasis this year is two-fold — to increase the amount of nutritious food being distributed and to feed the keiki.

The KIFB participates in the Keiki Kafe, which was started in 2004 in partnership with the Boys and Girls Club, Waimea Clubhouse and the Kaua‘i Children’s Discovery Museum.

This after-school program offers nutritious “super snacks” to children between the ages of 7 and 17 throughout the school year and is in its eighth year of operation.

For youngsters on the east side of the island, the KIFB initiated the first Back Pack Program in 2007 to children between the ages of 5 and 17 in Kapa‘a. The Back Pack program also is offered at the two Ni‘ihau Charter Schools in Kekaha.

Under this program, each Friday a youngster receives a Back Pack filled with nutritious food to take home for the weekend. The Back Pack program is in its fifth year in Kapa‘a and in its second year at the Ni‘ihau schools.

To encourage more nutritious food while supporting the local agricultural industry, the Electronics Benefits Transfer Farmers Market program allows food stamp recipients the opportunity to use their EBT cards for locally grown, fresh and healthy products at selected Kaua‘i farmers markets.

Jona Villon, the food bank’s agency relations supervisor, said there are 54 partner agencies which distribute food bank products across the island.

Moniz said 2011 set a 16-year record in demand for food with more than 150,000 requests.

Since 1995, KIFB has distributed 12.5 million pounds of food valued at more than $19.5 million, equating to more than 16.6 million meals.

“This is our island,” Moniz said. “KIFB is island-wide. We encourage people to host food drives and raise hunger awareness.”

Another way people can help is through the gleaning program sponsored by the Kaua‘i Agricultural Initiative.

“If you see places where fruit is falling on the ground, call us,” Moniz said. “We can send people to help gather the surplus food to help feed the hungry.”

Moniz said the task of feeding hungry people is possible because of the generosity of community sponsors, including the more than 50 grocery and retail stores, restaurants, hotels and distributors who are KIFB food donors.

Sponsors include  the Marriott Resorts, the Wilcox Foundation, Kaua‘i Community Federal Credit Union, First Hawaiian Bank, A&B Foundation, PS&D, Oceanic Time Warner Cable, The Gas Company, Earthworks, KQNG Radio Group, H Hawai‘i Media, the county government, Kaua‘i County Council, Kaua‘i Fire Department and The Garden Island newspaper.

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

• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.

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