8,000 Foodbank families
won't be gobbling turkey

Recent West Coast dock worker disputes
delay the holiday fare

By Pat Gee

Some 8,000 needy families will have to prepare their Thanksgiving meal around canned tuna, beef stew and Spam instead of turkey or chicken from the Hawaii Foodbank.

About 40,000 pounds of turkey that the Hawaii Foodbank planned as a surprise for these families hasn't arrived from the mainland in time, said a disappointed Brett Schlemmer, operations manager. And a backup plan to provide chicken has also fallen through.

Hawaii Foodbank

But spokespeople for two of the charitable agencies that would have received the turkey for distribution to the needy aren't disappointed. The turkey wasn't expected in the first place, they said.

Instead, canned meat is in food boxes the food bank is distributing to the poor throughout the holiday season, Schlemmer said.

The turkey is either somewhere on the mainland, where the recent lockout at West Coast docks has created a backlog of shipments to the islands, or it may even be en route over the ocean, according to Dennis Doi, the state's Office of Community Services program specialist who ordered the turkey for the food bank.

While it won't arrive in time for Thanksgiving, Doi said, "I'm quite sure it will get here for Christmas." He is having the San Francisco office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is providing the turkey under a federal grant program, track the shipment's whereabouts.

Schlemmer said the chicken has arrived in Hawaii, but it is on the docks. The food bank should be able to pick it up next week and distribute it to agencies immediately, according to Schlemmer.

Cindy Bauer, executive director of the Connection, a community outreach center under Grace Bible Church in Kalihi, said, "Not having turkey is a minor thing in the scope of the whole works. I'd give my eye teeth for a walk-in refrigerator" to store the perishable food the center receives.

"No, I'm not terribly disappointed; I didn't know it was even a possibility," she added.

The center's "Feed the Hungry" program provides food for more than 1,000 people a week. It is not uncommon for the center to run out of food, especially canned meat, which is really "a huge disappointment."

When the turkey and chicken do finally arrive, her people will be "totally stoked," she said, adding, "Protein is the most expensive thing."

Joe Hunker, senior pastor of the Lighthouse Outreach Center of the Assembly of God in Waipahu, said his church is going to purchase 50 turkeys for its parishioners and community members who don't have any.

He said the lack of turkey from the food bank won't affect many of the Waipahu needy. He said many of them "already ate their turkey" at a pre-Thanksgiving dinner Nov. 23, thanks to the Ko Olina Resort Community Association. More than 600 meals were provided by the association and the church, he said.

Although his people will be eating something besides turkey or chicken on Thanksgiving Day, they will have a good Christmas meal to look forward to, Hunker said.

Hawaii Foodbank

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