25 years of feeding Hawaii's hungry - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

25 years of feeding Hawaii's hungry

John White (at left) John White (at left)
Terry Heaton Terry Heaton
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

John White founded the Hawaii Foodbank in 1983.  His first donation drive netted 25,000 pounds of food.

"He was a wonderful guy and had a great vision for what he wanted to do.  But what he didn't realize is that he needed somebody from the media," Terry Heaton said.

Heaton was that somebody.  Back then he was the news director at KGMB, and he had an idea.

"This was probably the only time in history that a news director ever recommended the news department of a television station adopt a non-profit," former KGMB general manager Dick Grimm said.

Heaton wanted the station to broadcast the 1990 food drive live.

"I kept saying, 'Just wait. Just wait.  You won't believe what happens," he said.

"No one new about the Foodbank and no one knew what they did. So we did a lot of promos," Grimm said.

The joint effort paid off.  The news team and volunteers netted 221,000 pounds of food and $31,000 in donations.

"People are remarkably good if you give them a chance to be," Heaton said.

This year marks the twenty-fifth food drive.  Last year through donations and distribution the Foodbank provided one million meals.  More than 183,000 people were fed, 55,000 of them children. 

Grimm is now the Foodbank's president and CEO.  He said the annual food drive day is a key day.

"We get a lot of the canned goods. We get a lot of the protein, which is the highest cost in the food pyramid," he said..

And there's high demand for supply.  Right now, if no more food came in, the Foodbank warehouse would be empty in seven days.  Ideally, there would be 20 days backup. And the cost of food is rising.

"I can remember a couple of years ago we'd buy a container of rice for about $5,000.  Now we're paying almost $15,000 for a container of rice, for 40,000 pounds of rice," Grimm said.

In 1989, the food drive was held at one location.  Now there are eight of them.

"We're all over the community, and it's a statewide drive now, too," Grimm said.

"What a lot of people don't realize is that in that world, in the world of food, charitable food, size matters big time," Heaton said.

The partnership between KGMB and the Hawaii Foodbank has been unbroken for more than two decades.  It remains one of the good things about Hawaii.


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