Isle food banksNot since Hurricane Iniki have the cupboards of Hawaii's food banks been as bare as they are now.
appeal for help
in filling shelves
Auto dealers will aid in the
effort to collect food for an
expected increase in demand
By Diana Leone
The Hawaii Foodbank generally likes to have a 30-day supply of food to pass on to 245 nonprofit agencies it supplies, said president Dick Grimm. Supplies have dropped to 20 days worth and are going fast, he said.
"We don't want to be in a position where we can't help anyone," said Grimm.
So, the Hawaii Automobile Dealers Association has pledged to help replenish supplies by putting collection bins for the Hawaii Foodbank at participating dealers through the end of November.
People who have lost jobs or seen their hours cut back in the economic aftershock of the Sept. 11 attacks are clearly using the food banks to make ends meet, said Judy Lenthall, executive director of the Kauai Food Bank.
"I don't want to be the predictor of doom," Grimm said. "But I think you're going to see things continue to get worse until the tourist industry starts coming back."
Food drives are traditionally held in the spring, said Grimm, but with the current situation, "we have to stay ahead of the curve." November and December are typically high volume months for food distribution.
Current needs are for rice, noodles, canned goods and staple foods. Grimm said there currently is plenty of fresh produce available because wholesalers have donated excess inventory not needed by restaurants due to the drop in tourism.
The Hawaii Foodbank is based on Oahu and moves 7.5 million pounds of food a year. About a half-million pounds goes to neighbor islands, Grimm said.
There also are independent food banks on the Big Island, Maui and Kauai, which coordinate with the Oahu bank.
Hawaii Island Food Bank also is conducting an emergency food drive.
"In the 11 years that the Hawaii Island Food Bank has been in existence, we have never experienced the bare shelves we now have, which are due to drastic increases in requests for food and decline in food donations," said Executive Director Carol Ignacio.
Donations made on the neighbor islands will stay on those islands. Cash donations can be made at the individual food bank offices.
For unknown reasons, the decrease in donations started even before the Sept. 11 attacks, Ignacio said.
"It's always important to respond when the food bank needs help," said David Rolf, Hawaii Automobile Dealers Association executive director. In the past, auto dealerships have done food drives on an individual basis, he said, but they voted unanimously last week to make a group effort.
Star-Bulletin Publisher Don Kendall helped coordinate the effort, which is being promoted by the Star-Bulletin, MidWeek and KSSK radio. "We think it's obviously a critical situation for the food bank," Kendall said. "We're happy to be able to put something together."
Kauai's Lenthall said no one need go hungry, even in tough economic times: "There is enough food in Hawaii to feed everyone."
Donating to Hawaii's food banks will be easy during the rest of October and November as car dealerships offer collection bins for non-perishable foods. A balanced variety of canned, dried and staple foods are needed. Monetary donations and donations of produce or perishable items can be arranged with food bank staff.
These are Hawaii's food banks:
>> Hawaii Foodbank Inc. (on Oahu), 2611 Kilihau, 836-3600; 7 a.m.-4:30 p.m. weekdays and 7-11 a.m. Saturdays.
>> Kauai Food Bank, 3285 Waapa Road, Lihue, 246-3809; 8 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays.
>> Hawaii Island Food Bank, Hilo, 140B Holomua St., 935-3050; 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. weekdays; Kona, between mile posts 114 and 115 on Highway 11, 322-1418; 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. weekdays.
>> Maui Food Bank, 330 Hoohana St. (Bay 17), 877-3194; 8 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays.
>> Room Service in Paradise, a restaurant delivery service, will hold a food drive in November, offering a $3 discount for customers who donate at least three cans of food when they receive their Room Service orders. They pick up from nearly 40 restaurants and make deliveries in Kailua and Honolulu. Phones are 941-3463 in Honolulu and 261-3463 in Kailua.
Coming in November: