KILAUEA — North Shore Food Pantry board member Elena Stipanovic said the group had to get 15 cases of diapers for the food distribution held Saturday at the Anaina Hou Community Park.
“We have more than food,” Stipanovich said. “We have pet supplies, including dog food, toiletry items, clothes, and even a small tent. Clients can tell us what they need through our website at www.kauaifoodpantry.org.”
More than 350 packages of food, including fresh meat from Leong’s, an assortment of packaged foods, fresh fruits and vegetables, and rolls of toilet paper were distributed through a drive-thru, no-contact format by the North Shore Food Pantry. A separate station offered various assorted items including diapers, pet supplies, toiletries and household items.
“We were homeless for a while,” Stipanovich said. “We started in 2014 as a partnership between the Christ Memorial Episcopal Church and the Rotary Club of Hanalei Bay, who provided the financing and volunteers. We distributed from the Episcopal church until we grew to become our own nonprofit.”
The growth of the organization also resulted in the growth in the number of food packages being distributed, leaving the group without a location to distribute food until an arrangement could be reached with Anaina Hou Community Park.
“This is a perfect setup,” Stipanovich said. “We set up after the farmers’ market and can get donations of items the farmers’ market vendors have. Nothing goes to waste. Whatever we get, we give away. This week, we got a donation of nearly 200 cabbages from the Kaua‘i Community College agriculture program.”
Currently, the North Shore Food Pantry works out of a storage warehouse in Kilauea, with volunteers pre-packing the food-distribution items at the home of one of its volunteers and trucking the food packages and other supplies to the Anaina Hou Community Park distribution site.
During its growth, the COVID-19 virus hit the island.
“We used to deal with the food bank, but after the pandemic they had no food,” Stipanovich said. “We stay in contact, but now we survive on grants, donations and whatever we’re able to purchase. Donations like the cabbage we received from the Kaua‘i Community College go a long way toward helping us keep the people fed, and the purchases we make help support the local businesses.”
The website allows donations to be made conveniently.
The North Shore Food Pantry program hosts its weekly food distribution on Saturdays from 1 to 2:30 p.m. at Anaina Hou Community Park, currently in the shadow of the Pali Climbing Wall that recently established regular hours around the farmers’ market.
“What’s good is we have fun,” said Kai Kahiau, who trooped off with a trayful of cabbages to distribute to cars waiting their turn for food packages.
Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.