Charities struggle to feed the needy - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Charities struggle to feed the needy

Dick Grim Dick Grim

By Mari-Ela David - bio | email

MAPUNAPUNA (KHNL) - The ripple effect of the nation's financial crisis has trickled down to local charities. The rising cost of living and the rash of layoffs plaguing the state has some food pantries starving for donations.

Feeding Hawaii's hungry has become more difficult, as the economy continues its downward spiral.

At the Hawaii Foodbank, the aftershock of troubled times is apparent.

Shelves that used to be full just five months ago, are now bare.

"A lot of our agencies that are pantries that use to be opened once a week, they're now open three days a week. We do know that a lot of our drop-off sites where they used to serve 130-140 families are now serving 300-350 families," said Foodbank President Dick Grimm.

More than 250 agencies on Oahu rely on the Foodbank to serve the needy.

"In the 16 years I've been here, I've never been this fearful of the future. Our small little pantry that we run internally is pretty barren," said Joseph Bloom, Therapeutic Services Director for Catholic Charities Hawaii.

"The meals that we've been serving, breakfast lunch and dinner, we're seeing more of them coming in," said Connie Mitchell, Executive Director of the Institute for Human Services.

Charities are also seeing a change in demographics, serving clients they normally wouldn't see.

"These are middle class folks who are losing their jobs," said Bloom.

"We've been seeing more people who are falling out of rentals that they've been in for a while," said Mitchell.

Despite the food shortage the Foodbank hasn't experienced since 9-11, Grimm says he's not worried.

"The people of Hawaii are so giving and so tuned into what the problems are and this is such a close-knit community that they'll rise to the occasion," he said.

It's generosity charities are especially banking on this holiday season.

The Hawaii Foodbank says it is down about 4% in donations and up 8% in demand.

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