Demand rising for Foodbank services

About 18 percent of Kauai residents rely on the Hawaii Foodbank — Kauai Branch for food. That translates to 11,000 people — kids, families, kupuna — who require regular food assistance, according to “Hunger in America 2010.”

To meet that need, HFB Kauai distributed 847,472 pounds of food on Kauai last year. Where does all that food come from? A lot of it comes from generous people. HFB Kauai is wrapping up its 25th annual food drive, which included state workers, schools and an April 19, food drive. A total of 1,880 pounds of food were donated that day alone at seven sites around the island.

Enthusiastic volunteers at Big Save Waimea collected the most, at 815 pounds; followed by Safeway, 579 pounds; Big Save Eleele, 190 pounds; Times Supermarket, 144 pounds; Kmart, 88 pounds; Big Save Koloa, 35 pounds, and Princeville Foodland, 29 pounds.

HFB Kauai also collects and salvages food from grocery stores, distributors and other vendors throughout the island. It uses grant funds and monetary donations to purchase food at greatly reduced rates through the Feeding America program and other partnerships. It also receives shipments of food from the HFB Honolulu branch, and distributes food from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The food is sorted and stored in HFB Kauai’s spacious warehouse, where 29 qualified nonprofit agencies select what they want to distribute through their programs.

These include soup kitchens and food pantries run by churches and other groups. The agencies get the food through a shared maintenance fee of about 15 cents per pound, though about 37 percent of what they take is totally free.

The agencies, in turn, distribute the food free to the hungry. HFB Kauai supplements those distributions with frequent “ohana drops,” which get thousands more pounds of free food out to the hungry in our community.

The warehouse is a busy place, with food going out almost as fast as it comes in.

The inventory is ever-changing, but always includes canned goods, dairy products, fresh fruits and vegetables, cereal and other staples.

Chamber members and their guests got a chance to see the Puhi warehouse on April 10, when the Kauai branch hosted a well-attended After Hours event.

HFB  Kauai has been serving Kauai since 1992, and opened its modern warehouse four years ago.

Though the need for food assistance is steadily increasing, Kauai’s nonprofit agencies and the HFB Kauai are working closely with the community to meet the demand.

Info: Wes Perreira at 482-2224.

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