KEKAHA — It did not matter that this week is the observance of Hunger and Houselessness Awareness Week, a national effort to educate the public, bring awareness to the problem of poverty and support volunteers engaged in the community.
The Westside Christian Center Assembly of God food distribution was scheduled before anyone became aware of that national observance. The church schedules its monthly food pantry on the fourth Thursday of each month.
More than 300 families were accommodated Thursday in a drive-thru format fronting the church along Kekaha Road.
Cars stretched back beyond the Menehune Food Mart, parked single file along the road shoulder, as people waited for the signal to start.
Among those, a lady confided that this was her first experience with a food distribution, anxious about what was going to happen or what to expect.
Food recipients got the benevolence of the Westside Christian Center, which worked in partnership with the Hawai‘i Foodbank Kaua‘i Branch, E Ola Mau Na Leo O Kekaha, Kaua‘i Shrimp, various Kekaha farmers and Meridian to receive food packages that contained potatoes, apples, assorted fresh produce, assorted dry goods including stuffing, gravy and rice, bags of fresh, Kaua‘i-produced shrimp and, of course, turkeys for Thanksgiving.
“This is enough to make a meal for a family,” said Stephanie Iona of Kekaha Agriculture. “We even have a fresh sunflower that was grown here by a farmer in Kekaha.”
Elizabeth Kua of the Westside Christian Center said the monthly food pantry is a staple activity of the church. “We’ve been doing it for about 10 years,” Kua said. “Since the pandemic struck, our volume has more than tripled. Before the COVID-19, we would do maybe 80 to 100 packages. Since the pandemic, this has increased to more than 250, 300 packages.”
In each food package, a flier informed people of the next food distribution — Dec. 23, two days ahead of Christmas.