Store, food bank team up for donation deal

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Katherine Constantino, a cashier at Safeway Hokulei, brings over a customer’s contribution to the Hawaii Foodbank, Kauai Branch holiday rice sale at the Hokulei store.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Wes Perreira, the manager of the Hawaii Foodbank, Kauai Branch, and Gary Okimoto, Safeway head of operations from Honolulu, watch as Lesah Merritt, the Safeway Hokulei store manager, loads a customer’s contribution to the holiday rice sale, Wednesday.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Carl Fukushima, Safeway operations specialist from Honolulu, helps shopper Benjamin Dikilato unload two bags of rice for the Hawaii Foodbank, Kauai Branch holiday rice sale, Wednesday at the Safeway store in Hokulei Village.

LIHUE — “We need rice,” said Wes Perreira, manager of the Hawaii Foodbank, Kauai Branch, at the Safeway store in Hokulei Shopping Village.

Vanessa Ching, a Hawaii Foodbank volunteer, said people come in and ask for rice, and are disappointed when they are told there is no rice.

The rice shortage was alleviated somewhat Wednesday when the Hawaii Foodbank, Kauai Branch partnered with Safeway stores for a one-day special on its house brand 20-pound bag of rice.

Shoppers could buy a bag and donate it to the food bank. Bells chimed from cashiers’ stands as many did just that.

“She’s the queen,” said Carl Fukushima, an operations specialist from Safeway. “Lesah Merritt was No. 1 of the Safeway stores in the summer hunger campaign.”

Perreira said Fukushima, and Gary Okimoto, the Safeway head of operations, were impressed with the reaction to the campaign, and were looking expanding it to other stores on other islands.

Perreira noted that nearly a pallet of rice had already been contributed, and it was not even lunchtime.

“This is the right time,” he said. “When lunch comes around, there’ll be a lot more shoppers.”

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