Kapa‘a food pantry reopens

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Emilia Knudsen of the Kaua‘i Community Pantry “shops” for a customer, Monday during the reopening of the pantry located inside the Kaua‘i Store in Kapa‘a.

KAPA‘A — Eric Burton of The Kaua‘i Store was thrilled that more than 80 mouths were served by the Kaua‘i Community Pantry, Monday afternoon.

“We changed the way we account for food,” Burton said. “Where we used to count bags of food, we now count the number of mouths we serve. It’s just 2 p.m., and already we have served more than 80 mouths. This is amazing.”

Burton was busy working with Emilia Knudsen in serving the stream of customers that flowed through the community-based pantry located inside The Kaua‘i Store on the first day of its reopening after being closed for the month of July.

Customer orders were punctuated by customers bringing in donations to stock the shelves.

“We deliver hot meals to about 60 residents a week in Anahola,” said Dennis Neves of the Hawaiian Home Lands, who along with his wife, Kaui, dropped off a large carton of nonperishable food. “We deliver from Waipouli Grill who gets paid by a nonprofit group on O‘ahu. We pick up the food at Waipouli Grill and deliver to Anahola. We also deliver fresh produce from Kilauea, and when we have extra, we come to share the nonperishables.”

Burton said donations are key to keeping the shelves filled for the four-month-old pantry program.

“Every one of the vendors in The Kaua‘i Store has donated to the pantry,” Burton said. “We welcome donations of food, but will accept money, too. We need to buy things like sponges and other non-food items because we’re already four months old and customers are looking for more than food.”

Knudsen, whose idea of a pantry program inspired the growth of the Kaua‘i Community Pantry, also sells her line of jewelry at the Kilauea farmers market, and through online Etsy at EmiliaK Jewelry to help keep the shelves stocked.

The Kaua‘i Community Pantry is now open Mondays through Fridays from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. for customers who must register and then get help with the no-touch shopping that includes pointing out desired items for the pantry volunteer to package. Face masks are required as well as the six-feet social distancing separation. A new sign bearing the pantry’s logo is also new for the reopening.

“This is amazing,” Burton said. “People like to shop during the weekdays, some early in the week, and others waiting until midweek to get their supplies. We get a lot of Filipino families that have a lot of people. They’re not from here, but work hard in the visitor industry. And because they’re not from here, they don’t get the unemployment benefits and are afraid of going to other food programs because of the immigration laws.”

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

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