Recession has Hawaii Foodbank struggling to feed the hungry

Recession has Hawaii Foodbank struggling to feed the hungry
Dick Grimm
Dick Grimm

By Mari-Ela David - bio | email

KALIHI (HawaiiNewsNow) - For many, the tables have turned due to the recession.

The Hawaii Foodbank says a lot of people who were donors last year are recipients this year.

During this holiday season, the need is apparent.

"If you take a look at our shelves, there's not a lot of product here," said Dick Grimm, Hawaii Foodbank President.

At the Foodbank's warehouse, the supply is barely keeping up with the demand from Hawaii's hungry.

"If you just open this (chiller), bread and pastries, there isn't any. Unfortunately, this is our chiller or part of our chiller and it's pretty empty as you can see," said Grimm.

Grimm says the non-profit is feeding 30% more people this year than in the past. On average, staff distributes 30,000 pounds of food per day to 250 of its partner agencies, including shelters.

Since the dismal economy hit, the Foodbank now distributes 44,000 pounds per day. Grimm says they only have enough to last 12 days. That's inching close to the lowest the warehouse has ever gotten - an eight to nine-day supply.

"It's scary. Our people are constantly going out trying to get more food or get the money to purchase the food," said Grimm.

Because of the recession, Grimm says donations from food manufacturers have dropped by 21 percent.

To offset that, the Foodbank relies on retail and community donations to stay afloat, and out of the red. It's a struggle, tackled day-by-day.

Wednesday was one of the better days - an unexpected donation shipped from the U.S.D.A. came in to the warehouse. Grimm says it's a first for the Foodbank - 40,000 pounds of lamb. It's the kind of generosity that's much-needed in Hawaii.

"When you find a little child who cries because he's getting a hot dog, hasn't had a hot dog in a year or two and you see that happen and you say 'Wow'," said Grimm.

As empty as it's shelves may be, so far, the Hawaii Foodbank hasn't had to close its doors to someone in need.

"We never will. We'll find a way," said Grimm.

In this season of giving, Hawaii News Now is proud to partner with the Hawaii Foodbank, as well as the Salvation Army, and Helping Hands Hawaii.

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