‘The pantry welcomes everyone’

KILAUEA — Christ Memorial Episcopal Church commemorated the second 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, and in the second year of operation, fed 2,292 shoppers, representing food for 7,713 people and family members.

“The CMEC food pantry was launched to help people who have a difficult time feeding themselves and their families,” said voluntary operations manager Cathy Butler. “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. We open on Saturday to fill the gap in the week for other pantries before our keiki go to school on Monday.”

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, according to a news release. The pantry includes large amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables, which are often donated by local growers.

“It is a privilege to serve our North Shore ohana with a food pantry,” said Rev. Robin Taylor, vicar at CMEC. “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 community volunteers and community financial support. During the second year, more than 3,000 volunteer hours were tabulated, three times the volunteer hours of the first year of operation, involved in purchasing and moving 70,000 pounds of purchased food, and donated produce, stacking and unstacking large shelves and serving behind the tables of food for shoppers.

“It is an honor to work with a team that is so dedicated to the community,” said Butler. “Food on Kauai is very expensive. The pantry welcomes everyone, and we feel like we have become another ohana.”

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 offered volunteers, financing and business advice. The Food Pantry is now nearly self-sustaining with donations from individuals and foundation grants from across Kauai and the Mainland.

The CMEC Food Pantry is open weekly on Saturdays from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m., or until food runs out, in the church parish hall at 2518 Kolo Road.

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