A 2-mile-long line stretched around Ala Moana. A sign families need help

Updated: Apr. 11, 2020 at 5:41 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - It looked like something out of the Great Depression.

Hundreds of cars formed a line as long as two miles from Ward Avenue to Ala Moana Center Saturday morning for the Salvation Army’s drive-thru emergency food distribution.

A long line of cars formed as people waited to get basic groceries from the Salvation Army...
A long line of cars formed as people waited to get basic groceries from the Salvation Army Saturday at Ala Moana Center.(HNN)

“I haven’t seen anything like it. But I don’t think America has seen anything like the COVID crisis that we’re having right now,” said Salvation Army Major Jeffrey Martin.

“This is extraordinary."

The emergency food distribution is aimed at helping families who may have been hit hard financially during the coronavirus pandemic. Many waited in the line for up to two hours.

The Salvation Army said it distributed food to nearly 700 cars. Many of the cars had multiple families riding together, meaning that thousands of people are being fed.

Volunteers said the recipients came from all walks off life, including young couples, the poor, the elderly -- even people who once held high paying jobs who are now out of work.

“We’re seeing them from all income levels because when somebody gets laid off and the income stops coming in -- even if they have a fancy car or a fancy house -- they’re going to be hungry," Martin said.

Volunteers distributed some 2,220 gallons of fresh milk, 4,320 dozen eggs, 3,000 loaves of bread, and 5,000 pounds of fresh Maui harvest potatoes.

The goods were donated by Chad and Stephanie Buck, owners of The Hawaii Food Service Alliance, a local food distributor.

“Clearly this is a drop in the bucket. We’ve been doing this for an hour or so and the cars keep coming and we keep loading milk, bread and eggs into people’s vehicles," said Chad Buck, as he worked with volunteers to hand out food.

Cars were allowed to line up with trunks open beginning at 9:30 a.m. The line soon stretched around the mall, down Kona Iki St., off of Kapiolani Blvd. and all the way to Ward Avenue.

The event lasted until 12:45 p.m. As part of the drive-thru, volunteers directed drivers to the distribution areas where they placed the goods inside car trunks to avoid contact.

“With more than 200,000 Hawaii residents without jobs due to this current crisis, we are grateful to be able to support those in need during this Easter weekend,” said Victor Leonardi, Divisional Director of Emergency Services & Safety and Incident Commander for The Salvation Army Hawaiian & Pacific Islands Division.

(To donate to the Salvation Army, click click here or call 808-440-1800.)

Hawaii Foodbank and the AFL-CIO held a separate drive-thru food distribution downtown today. About 300 families were served and many of them were receiving assistance for the first time.

“There were people lining up half an hour before we started at 9 a.m.,” said Randy Perreira, executive director of the Hawaii Government Employees Association.

“To them it’s unthinkable. They’re mid-career, they probably would have never imagined this would happen to them. They just need some help and support."

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