RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann delivered a meal to Lillian Tomitagawa yesterday at her apartment in the Punchbowl Homes building as part of Lanakila Rehabilitation Center's Meals on Wheels program. CLICK FOR LARGE
$25,000 gift boosts Meals on Wheels
The community comes to the aid of the program, but more donations are still needed
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Lanakila Meals on Wheels is on a roll to offset a budget shortfall of $350,000 with a $25,000 donation yesterday from Central Pacific Bank.
Marian Tsuji, Meals on Wheels president and chief executive officer, said they have enough donations to sustain the current level of service to 727 seniors for another month.
But more funding is still needed to provide meals for about 200 of the 727 seniors for the next 11 months, Tsuji said yesterday at a news conference at Honolulu Hale.
Also, Gov. Linda Lingle recently approved funding for kupuna care programs, including Meals on Wheels. City officials have said the state provided about $106,000 last year.
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Organizations and residents have helped the Lanakila Meals on Wheels Program keep rolling to deliver nutritious hot meals to 727 seniors for another month.
But more funding is needed to avoid cutting about 200 seniors from the program in future months.
"It buys us more time," said President and Chief Executive Officer Marian Tsuji.
More funding is still needed to help cover meal costs for about 200 of the 727 seniors for the next 11 months, Tsuji said.
Central Pacific Bank donated $25,000 to Lanakila Meals on Wheels yesterday to help offset the program's $350,000 budget shortfall.
"When we heard that Lanakila had a $350,000 deficit that had to be met, we reacted very quickly and mobilized and wanted to make sure that this great nonprofit could continue providing for the community in a very important sector as it has done so successfully for so many years," said Clint Arnoldus, chief executive officer of Central Pacific Bank, yesterday at a news conference at Honolulu Hale, where Arnoldus presented a check to Tsuji.
Recently, the Island Insurance Foundation donated a dollar-for-dollar $25,000 matching grant to the program.
More donations streamed in yesterday, with $10,000 from one company and $5,000 from another. The precise sum raised to offset the $350,000 shortfall was not immediately available.
"People are coming forward and realizing that we really need help," said Director Remy S. Rueda. "They are extending their hands and giving us hope that the seniors are going to continue receiving meals from us."
Mayor Mufi Hannemann announced yesterday that $750,000 in community development block grant funds were allocated to the program to aid renovation of its kitchen on Bachelot Street that allows workers to cook more meals.
Gov. Linda Lingle recently signed a bill that would allocate funding for kupuna care programs, including Meals on Wheels. The amount of funding to be released to the program is yet to be determined.
Last year, $106,000 in state funding was released to Lanakila Meals on Wheels, said Debbie Kim Morikawa, director of the city Department of Community Services.
For 35 years, Makiki resident Lillian Tomitagawa, 92, has received hot meals daily through the program.
The program serves meals that fit each senior's diet. For Tomitagawa, her meals are made to be low in salt and fat.
Yesterday, Hannemann delivered a hot aluminum container of chicken and chopped broccoli and beans along with an orange, toast and a small carton of fat-free milk.
Tomitagawa, who is blind, said she enjoys every meal delivered, along with the camaraderie and interaction of those who deliver the meals. "Warren brings me lunch. He's very nice, very friendly," she said.
Since 1980, Lanakila Meals on Wheels has provided hot daily meals to homebound seniors 60 and older who are unable to prepare their own meals due to physical and cognitive challenges, according to their Web site.
Lanakila Meals on Wheels delivers more than 242,000 meals annually to homebound seniors. Just $6.50 will provide a meal to an isolated senior.
HOW TO DONATE
Donations to Lanakila Meals on Wheels can be made to any of Central Pacific Bank's 38 branches on an ongoing basis, year-round, according to bank officials. Checks should be made out to Lanakila Meals on Wheels Program.