Big Isle sees smaller share
of emergency food funding

The government gives $73,498
for social service programs


Saturday, Dec. 27, 2003

>> A displayed quotation from a story on Page A3 yesterday was said by Carol Ignacio, of the Office for Social Ministry. The quote was incorrectly attributed to Helen Hemmes, of the Hawaii Island United Way.

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin strives to make its news report fair and accurate. If you have a question or comment about news coverage, call Editor Frank Bridgewater at 529-4791 or email him at

HILO >> The federal government has provided $73,498 for emergency food and shelter programs on the Big Island, part of $153 million to be distributed across the nation, the Hawaii Island United Way announced Tuesday.

The United Way will serve as "convener" of a local board that will decide how the Big Island money will be distributed among various agencies, said United Way President Helen Hemmes.

The nationwide money is approved by Congress every year about this time, Hemmes said.

The annual amounts have been declining while the need has increased, social services providers said.

This year's $73,498 compares with $97,178 for the Big Island last year and $130,000 a few years earlier, Hemmes said.

Meanwhile, monthly requests for food have increased about 14 percent from December 2002 to last month, said Carol Ignacio, executive director of the Office for Social Ministry.

Requests have been on the increase since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Ignacio said. "We have seen a steady, steady rise," she said.

"The good news is that people in the general public are noticing the need and responding," Ignacio said. "New donors are coming in, some with large donations, such as stocks, which have appreciated in value."

But social service agencies still rely on small donors, Ignacio said. "In the big picture, it's the small donors who are consistent. The $10, $20, $50, that's where the bulk of your money comes from," she said.

Federal money is allocated nationwide according to a formula that takes into account factors such as unemployment and overall poverty, Hemmes said. She believes the formula underrates poverty on the Big Island because it is not adjusted for seasonal employment such as hotel workers.

Despite that, Hawaii County was the only jurisdiction in the state to receive a "direct award" of the federal money, Hemmes said. Other money is distributed throughout the remainder of the state through a board convened by the Aloha United Way, she said. The amount of that money was not immediately available.


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