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Safeway hunger relief is huge

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    The team from the Safeway store at Hokulei Village Shopping Center in Puhi, led by store Manager Lesah Merritt and Les Quisano, and the team from the Hawai‘i Foodbank Kaua‘i Branch, with Wes Perreira, Michelle Panoke, Lee Remigio, Chyenne Beach and Tish Ruiz, stand in front of a portion of the Food for Hunger collection Thursday morning at the Puhi store.

PUHI — The final delivery was so huge it took multiple deliveries to the Hawai‘i Foodbank Kaua‘i Branch to accomplish Thursday at the Safeway store in the Hokulei Village Shopping Center.

“This is just from our store,” said Lesah Merritt, the Safeway Hokulei store manager. “Sometimes, we combine the deliveries with the Kaua‘i Village store, but this one today is just from our store.”

From Nov. 4 through Dec. 30, the Safeway stores hosted a food-relief campaign, enabling customers to contribute to Hunger Bags containing pre-packed food items that are highly-requested by the Hawai‘i Foodbank and its network of food pantries and agencies in the community.

Merritt said that, when the dust settled, the Safeway store at Hokulei finished by raising $40,050, or 4,005 bags at $10 a bag.

Les Quisano of the Safeway management team said the total was enough to raise the Safeway at Hokulei to a No. 1 position in the store’s division.

“We’re No. 1,” Quisano said. “Under a previous campaign, we reached the top in the region, too. This time, though, there were stores in California that raised more than 6,000 bags in the same period.”

Merritt noted that the bulk of the contributions came directly from Kaua‘i’s residents.

“There were very little visitors here during the time of the hunger-relief drive,” Merritt said. “This is the generosity of the Kaua‘i people who gave — especially now, with the pandemic — to help someone else.”

The Hawai‘i Foodbank Kaua‘i Branch welcomed the delivery of food that will help to bolster its inventory that had been gleaned by the numerous year-end food distributions.

Lee Remigio, the Hawai‘i Foodbank Kaua‘i Branch operations manager, said they are planning for more food distributions in 2021.

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

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