County distributes food

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Kaua‘i Fire Department Deputy Chief Solomon Kanoho directs traffic after cars receive their food packages Saturday at Vidinha Stadium in Lihu‘e.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Mayor Derek Kawakami, center, is among the volunteers getting a final briefing on the food distribution Saturday at Vidinha Stadium in Lihu‘e.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Sparky the Kaua‘i Fire Department mascot, and Coty “Buffy” Ofisa of Kamehameha Schools direct traffic through the food-distribution line Saturday at Vidinha Stadium in Lihu‘e.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Lorna Ouderkirk is ready with two bags of food Saturday during the drive-thru food distribution at Vidinha Stadium in Lihu‘e.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Cynthia Chiang of the state Department of Health verifies need Saturday while cars waiting to enter the county’s food- distribution line snake past The Kaua‘i Bus yard at the Ka‘ana Street entrance to Vidinha Stadium in Lihu‘e.

LIHU‘E — The “Warriors” emblazoned on Coty “Buffy” Ofisa’s shirt was definitely not representing Kapa‘a High School — the color was blue instead of green.

Instead, they represented Kamehameha Schools, where Ofisa is the regional director for the Kamehameha Schools for Kaua‘i and Ni‘ihau.

She was among the scores of volunteers helping with the County of Kaua‘i food distribution that was administered by the Kaua‘i Incident Management Team and spearheaded by the county’s Department of Parks &Recreation.

Assisting the effort were personnel from the Kaua‘i Police Department, the Hawai‘i National Guard, Kaua‘i Fire Department and state Department of Health.

“We’ve been working remotely,” said Melanie Okamoto of the Department of Parks &Recreation. “We haven’t seen each other since March. Normally, we’d be doing the Mayor’s Age Group Track Meet about now, but we’re doing this instead.”

Five hundred food packages were distributed to a long line of cars that snaked dangerously close to Rice Street on the Ho‘olako Street entrance to Vidinha Stadium, and dangerously close to the Veterans Memorial Highway on the Ka‘ana Street entrance.

Volunteers claim the first people in line started waiting at least an hour before the distribution started.

The distribution was a joint program with the Hawai‘i Foodbank Kaua‘i branch and the Kaua‘i Independent Food Bank, which got help from contributions and volunteer help from Alaska Airlines, whose contributions helped make up the snack portion of the food packages.

Motorists and vehicle occupants were checked for need by the presentation of different identifying documents before being allowed inside the stadium parking area staging area, where Mayor Derek Kawakami took the opportunity to greet the waiting cars and wish them well during this COVID-19 experience.

Eligibility documentation indicating need included Med-Quest/Children’s Health Insurance Program health insurance cards, letters from prior employers verifying unemployment (this could include a letter of termination of employment or reduction of hours), letters of eligibility for state Unemployment Insurance benefits/proof of application to Unemployment Insurance, letters of successful Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) submission or proof of application, cards or letters of eligibility for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly Food Stamps) or Electronic Benefits Transfer, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, letters of eligibility for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or proof of eligibility for U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Housing Choice Voucher Program.

The food distribution continues Saturday, May 16, at 2 p.m. at the Hanapepe Recreation Center at 2 p.m.

Future distributions will be on Saturday, May 23 at the Bryan J. Baptiste Sports Complex in Kapa‘a, and on Saturday, May 30, at a site to be determined on the North Shore.

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Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or dfujimoto@thegardenisland.com.

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