Give thanks by contributing to Hawaii’s food banks
Economic conditions have resulted in shortages experienced by the nation's food banks, including those in Hawaii.
As most Americans begin the holiday season by digging into their elaborate Thanksgiving feasts, they can give thanks best by sharing with the less fortunate, difficult as that has become. Hawaii food banks and food pantries across the country are experiencing shortages that befall the most needy.
The Hawaii Foodbank on Oahu continues to receive daily donations but has only a two-week supply of food instead of the month's supply desired, said Polly Kauahi, director of development. The food bank supplies 270 agencies on the island.
The nation's charities receive about two-thirds of their donations from households with $200,000 or more in annual income, according to a study funded by the Bank of America Corp. Those are the families most likely hit by the recent drop in stock prices triggered by the mortgage crunch.
At the same time, rising housing, utility and gasoline costs have increased demand for food from households that can't afford it. Nearly one-third of the 130,000 people who receive help from Hawaii's food banks are forced to make the decision whether to pay rent or buy food, Kauahi told the Star-Bulletin's Rosemarie Bernardo.
The U.S. Agriculture Department reported that 35.5 million Americans said they did not have enough money or resources to get food at least some of the time last year, up from the 2005 figures. Meanwhile, in the past three years, the department's support of food banks has fallen by more than 70 percent.
In July, the U.S. House approved a farm bill that would increase aid for food stamps and nutrition by more than $4 billion. The Senate should give its approval after returning from the Thanksgiving recess. Churches, food banks and civic groups cannot alone provide the assistance needed.
America's Second Harvest, the country's largest food-bank network, reported this week that 18 percent of children 18 years old or younger were hungry or at risk of hunger from 2003 to 2005. Hawaii can be thankful for a lower occurrence of children's food insecurity, but its 12 percent, while sixth-lowest in the country, represents more than 37,000 children -- far too many.
"This report comes at a critical time for hungry Americans and those of us who help serve them," said Vicki Escarra, president of Second Harvest. "There simply may be no food for many families when the rest of the nation gathers to celebrate Thanksgiving and religious holidays."