St. Catherine food pantry lands grant to help mission

KAPAA — The St. Catherine Food Pantry was recently awarded a $5,000 grant from the Friends of Hawaii charity, said Mark Whitson, pantry operations manager.

Supported by Sony and the Weinberg Foundation, this is the second year the St. Catherine food pantry has been awarded the grant.

“The St. Catherine Food Pantry is 100 percent self-funded so donations such as this from the Friends of Hawaii charity are critical to fulfilling our mission of feeding the hungry,” Whitson said. “With this award, we are now able to provide fresh fruits and/or vegetables, and basic hygiene items like toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap and shampoo.”

Whitson said they finished a beach tour Wednesday when St. Catherine Food Pantry volunteers brought food, clothing and other items to the Kapaa area beaches.

“Today, there weren’t many people behind the police substation because of the concert,” Whitson said.

“But between Fujii Beach and the small boat harbor, we took care of about 60 people.”

Combined with the people at the pantry distribution, about 400 people were served Wednesday.

On the average, they serve about 350 people a week.

Whitson starts the distribution with a prayer, thanking God “for allowing us to serve as Jesus served.”

Whitson said in addition to the Friends of Hawaii grant, the St. Catherine Food Pantry gets a lot of help in serving people who need help.

“The Kauai Humane Society Thrift Shop donates clothing, which we put out each week for those who need,” Whitson said. “Sometimes, they put in some stuffed animals and we see the children running around with them cradled under their arms. Today, we offered a blanket to a lady who broke down and cried.”

The clothing section is browsed and picked clean while people await their turn into the food pantry via a lottery number.

“Nothing goes to waste,” he said. “Food which we can’t use is put aside for the pig farmers. We try real hard not to let anything go to waste.”

This is the fourth year the St. Catherine Food Pantry has been operating, Whitson said.

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