Nearly 6 tons of rice donated to food bank

LIHUE — If the store did not run out of rice, the total contribution might have topped 11,000 pounds.

The “Have a Rice Day” campaign hosted by Safeway Stores on Kauai and the Hawaii Foodbank Kauai Branch netted 10,940 pounds of rice, or 547 bags, over a two-day period ending at 5 p.m. Saturday.

“This is the first time we’ve done this campaign anywhere in the state,” said Wes Perreira, Hawaii Foodbank Kauai branch manager. “We weren’t really sure as to how the community would respond, so we set a goal of 100 bags, or 2,000 pounds, for each of the Safeway stores — the Kauai Village and the Hokulei Shopping Village.”

Safeway at Kauai Village met its goal of 100 bags and the Safeway at Hokulei Village collected 447 bags, or 8,940 pounds of rice, over the two days.

Lesah Merritt, store manager at Safeway Hokulei Village, was ecstatic Friday afternoon as she left the store decorated in St. Patrick’s Day finery.

“You need to see the store and what we’ve done with the rice,” Merritt said. “Since starting at noon, customers have been contributing at least 300 bags in the first four hours. Wes has help from some of the Hawaii Foodbank, Kauai Branch volunteers, and the Girl Scouts, but I don’t think we have enough rice.”

The Safeway at Hokulei Village actually ran out of the designated Signature Kitchens Calrose Rice and brought in other brands to substitute, Perreira said.

“They even shipped one pallet from Kapaa to Lihue on Friday night to help with the demand,” he said.

Perreira attributes the success of the campaign to Merritt’s performance as a store manager.

“She is an amazing person to watch as she gets her staff motivated,” Perreira said. “Because of her constant monitoring of the rice sales and being able to adapt to the changing environment in the store throughout the day, she is able to get everyone, including her employees, the volunteers, and more importantly, the customers, behind the cause.”

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