Westside schools get food pantries

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Kekaha School Student Services Coordinator Chelsea Ruiz, left, discusses the food pantry with Hawai‘i Foodbank Kaua‘i Branch’s Lee Remigio and Chyenne Beach Thursday at the school as Andrew Panoke wheels in one of the storage units.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Kekaha School Principal Marilyn Asahi, left, gets social-media files of Chyenne Beach, James Hughes, and Andrew Panoke of the Hawai‘i Foodbank Kaua‘i Branch installing food-pantry storage units at the school Thursday.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Waimea High School Principal Mahina Anguay, right, and Student Services/Food Access Coordinator Kim Frasco-Ayudan talk about the food-pantry storage being installed by Lee Remigio, Andrew Panoke, and James Hughes of the Hawai‘i Foodbank Kaua‘i Branch Thursday morning.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Waimea High School and Hawai‘i Foodbank Kaua‘i Branch staffs celebrate the installation of a food pantry on the Menehune campus Thursday.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Kekaha School Principal Marilyn Asaki, right, Student Services Coordinator Chelsea Ruiz, third from right, and staff join Hawai‘i Foodbank Kaua‘i Branch staff in celebrating the installation of a food pantry Thursday at the westernmost public school in the United States.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Shown are examples of some of the types of foods available to students at the food pantries at Waimea High and Kekaha School. The pantries were installed Thursday by staff of the Hawai‘i Foodbank Kaua‘i Branch.

KEKAHA — The staff at Waimea High School welcomed the food pantry by assigning it a name before it arrived on campus Thursday.

“Did you tell him it was called Menehune EATS?” Sharla Bucasas asked as the emptied food cartons were being trucked away.

Lisa Saiki said the food pantry installed by staff of the Hawai‘i Foodbank Kaua‘i Branch is going to be called “Menehune EATS.”

The food pantry at Waimea High School was one of two installed by the Hawai‘i Foodbank Kaua‘i Branch Thursday, the second set up at Kekaha School, the westernmost public school in the United States, during a time when teachers and staff were busy with preparing the campuses for the return of students.

Combined, the pantry installations have the impact of addressing food insecurity for at least a thousand students, 700 enrolled at Waimea High School, and 300 students registered at Kekaha School.

Each pantry consists of a pair of standing storage closets, one containing packaged food and one containing healthy snack items, and a standing, two-door refrigerator to cool beverages for the students.

“We’re still holding the refrigerator for installation at Waimea High School until after the students return to school,” said Chyenne Beach, the community development specialist at the Hawai‘i Foodbank Kaua‘i Branch. “The other storage units will be anchored to the walls as a deterrent to theft.”

Beach said for the thousand students and their families, the food pantries at the schools that will be stocked by the Hawai‘i Foodbank Kaua‘i Branch represent food security during this time of high unemployment and the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic uncertainties they created.

“Generally, this is for anybody who needs,” Beach said. “We’re trying to eliminate discriminating. No one should have to deal with food shame, or not being able to afford.”

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

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