Hawaii Foodbank raises record amount for holiday drive

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - By: Jade Storms

Every year during the holiday season, the Hawaii Foodbank holds their "Check-Out Hunger" program, a fundraising campaign that helps feed Hawaii's hungry. Dick Grimm, president of Hawaii Foodbank, announced the final results early Tuesday morning.

This year, the Check-Out Hunger program raised $236,045.06, a record breaking amount. Polly Kauahi, director of development for Hawaii Foodbank, said the program serves thousands of people in need across Hawaii.

"The food bank actually serves over 183,000 people in our state," Kauahi said. "That is including 55,000 children and over 11,000 of our seniors and it really is helping the working people that just aren't making enough to get by right now, even though the economy is said to be improving, it's going to be awhile before people who have lost their jobs or have lost their homes are able to totally be self-sufficient."

Kauahi also explained how the Hawaii Foodbank really tries and makes an effort to support people in need with a well-balanced diet.

"We try to provide a well-balanced diet as we can, but that's not always possible," Kauahi said. "But we do have a produce program that distributes over three million pounds of produce each year. Out of this warehouse, we're actually distributing a million pounds a month, and three million during the year is produce, so we hope that helps with nutrition."

From November 7, 2012 through January 15, 2013, shoppers were able to make a donation at participating retailers across the islands by tearing off a "check-out hunger" coupon at the check-out stand. Customers had the option to choose a $2.81 coupon that fed a child breakfast for a week, a $12.43 coupon that fed a senior lunch for a month, or a $16.84 coupon that fed a family dinner for a week.

Kraft Foods also plays a part in helping out with Hawaii Foodbank, by donating cash and food products to kick-start the program each year. Gerald Shinteku is the customer business leader for Kraft Foods in Hawaii.

"This is a great program that we participate in with the food bank, and I think we've done this for almost ten years now," Shinteku said. "Altogether, we've probably raised close to $2 million, and so we just support the food bank by putting together some of the collateral material for them and kick them off with about $5,000 in cash to kick-start the program every year, and the rest of it is all the consumers of Hawaii that really help make this total come together, along with the retailers."

Bob Stout, President of Times Supermarkets, said that Times has donated nearly a million pounds of food which provided more than 800,000 meals for those in need.

"The response has been tremendous from the customers and without them, we wouldn't have been able to do this," Stout said. "Our customers are very generous, they understand the program and they understand the need in Hawaii."

Kauahi said working together as a community is vital to the success of Hawaii Foodbank and its programs.

"The most important thing is to thank the people of Hawaii," Kauahi said. "Without their support, this program and the foodbank itself would not be able to provide for the 183,000 of our island neighbors in need. It doesn't get done without us being one big ohana."

The 24th annual Oahu food drive will be held on April 20, 2013 at participating locations. For more information on events held on neighboring islands, visit Hawaii Foodbank website at http://www.hawaiifoodbank.org/page9.aspx.

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