LIHUE — Christ Memorial Episcopal Church (CMEC) commemorated the first anniversary of its food pantry with a special celebration for its food pantry ohana Saturday.
Since its inception in 2014, the CMEC Food Pantry has been steadily growing, from serving 24 families in the first week of operation to serving 60 to 80 families per week today. Over the last 12 months, it has served more than 3,000 households, estimated at 9,486 people.
The CMEC food pantry was launched to help people who have a difficult time feeding themselves and their families. Hawaii has some of the highest food costs in the nation. With many people earning minimum wage and seniors on fixed incomes, it is often difficult for them to make ends meet.
“It is a privilege to serve our community with a food pantry,” said Rev. Robin Taylor, Vicar at Christ Memorial Episcopal Church in Kilauea. “As Christians, we believe God calls us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, to strive for justice and peace among all people, and to respect the dignity of every single human being. So in our mission to care for our neighbors, we start with meeting basic needs. “
The pantry would not be possible without the community volunteers and financial support. During the first year, more than 1,000 volunteer hours were tabulated, moving 20,000 pounds of purchased food, and more than 8,000 pounds of donated produce.
“It is an honor to work with a team that is so dedicated to the community. Food on Kauai is very expensive. The pantry welcomes everyone, and we feel like we have become another ohana” said Cathy Butler, food pantry coordinator.
Christ Memorial’s pantry is dedicated to serving the healthiest food possible, and is set up to allow people to “shop” and choose what they need. The pantry offers fresh fruits and vegetables, which are often donated by local growers.
To help launch the pantry, Christ Memorial established a partnership with the Hanalei Bay Rotary during the first two years of set-up and operation. The Rotary provides funding and volunteers, as well as business advice, to ensure the pantry is sustainable over time.
The pantry is open to those who meet USDA income requirements or those experiencing emergencies. Everyone is welcome, regardless of religious affiliation.
Creating this pantry would not be possible without the support of many individuals and foundations who have graciously offered financial assistance.
The Christ Memorial Episcopal Church Food Pantry is open weekly on Saturdays from 3:30 – 4:30 p.m., or until food runs out, in the church parish hall at 2518 Kolo Road.