LIHU‘E — “I have a smartphone but I don’t know how to use it,” said a disappointed client at the Kupa‘a Kaua‘i food-distribution program at the Lihu‘e Neighborhood Center Tuesday.
“You still have time,” said Andra Ota of the county’s Department of Parks &Recreation, which oversaw the food distribution. “You go get the paperwork, and when you come back I’ll try to help you get registered. Make sure you have your phone.”
Other recipients flowed through the process, leaving content with their packages containing pulled chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy and green beans after verifying their eligibility through electronic copies on their smartphones.
The menu of offerings differed between the east and west locations, with this week’s offering from locations in the west receiving a case of saimin, eggs, bread and a bag of sweet potatoes.
Funded through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act money, the Kupa‘a Kaua‘i food-distribution program started Tuesday and continues through Friday, offering eligible recipients food at neighborhood centers in Lihu‘e, Kapa‘a and Kilauea in the east, and Koloa, Hanapepe and Waimea on the west. The program continues each week through the end of December. Residents must register each week to remain eligible to collect the free food.
The program is administered by the Kaua‘i Incident Management Team and operated by the county Department of Parks &Recreation in partnership with the Hawai‘i Foodbank Kaua‘i Branch, the Kaua‘i Independent Food Bank and the state Department of Health Kaua‘i District Health Office.
“We were pretty busy,” said Ku‘ulei Takashima of the county Department of Parks &Recreation. “There are 149 people registered, and a lot of them came early, right after we opened at 9 a.m. And if you want food for next week, you need to register again. You need to register each week for the following week’s pickup.”
Operating hours for the center manned by county Department of Parks &Recreation staff are 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m., with the food recipients indicating a preference of times for pickup.
Households need to pre-register online by submitting an application through the Kauai.gov/COVID-19 survey link. Appropriate documentation can be submitted by either attaching a PDF or picture within the application indicating qualification of need.
Following the application submission, eligible applicants will receive an email back within 48 hours, indicating whether they were approved or disapproved for the program for that week. The approved application is good for one pick up, once a week.
To be eligible, applicants must provide at least one of the following to demonstrate need for this emergency support:
w Med-Quest/Children’s Health Insurance Program health insurance card;
w Letter from prior employer verifying unemployment, including a letter of termination of employment or reduction of hours;
w Letter of eligibility for the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations Unemployment Insurance Division showing benefits/proof of application to UUI;
w Letter of successful Pandemic Unemployment Assistance submission/proof of application;
w Card or letter of eligibility for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or Electronic Benefits Transfer, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, etc.;
w Letter of eligibility for Housing and Urban Development Housing Choice Voucher Program; or
w If none of the listed items are available, be prepared to verify need in another way or ways.
Individuals needing help, or those with questions about registering online, can call the Kaua‘i Emergency Management Agency at 241-1800.
Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.