HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The city is partnering with several community organizations to launch a massive food distribution program for hundreds of thousands of people in need across Oahu.
The city and the Hawaii Resilience Fund of the Hawaii Community Foundation both donated $1 million to the Hawaii Foodbank to make the program happen, which is designed to feed more than 256,000 people islandwide over the next eight weeks.
The food will be distributed at four Oahu locations, with the first happening April 30 from noon to 4 p.m. at Waipio Soccer Complex. The goal is to have two distributions a week alternating at the soccer complex and three other venues: Kakaako Waterfront Park, Kaiaka Bay Beach Park in Haleiwa and Waimanalo District Park.
Future distribution dates and times will be posted at HawaiiFoodbank.org.
Families are being urged to double or triple up in the same car to decrease the traffic back-up.
“The needs are so significant on Oahu right now,” said Ron Mizutani, president and CEO of the Hawaii Foodbank, in a news conference Friday. “It’s an ambitious project that we’re taking on. Every dime of it will go into food.”
He added, “We will be stronger when this is all done, as an island and as a state.”
The project is in addition to food distributions already happening around the island.
Statewide, more than 250,000 people have been laid off since March 1 — driving the unemployment rate to a jaw-dropping 37% and overwhelming the state’s antiqued unemployment claims system. That’s the highest rate in the nation and underscores just how crippling the shutdown has been to Hawaii’s tourism-focused economy.
Mayor Kirk Caldwell said the program will help many who have never needed food assistance before.
“They were going hungry,” he said. “At times, they didn’t know where to go.”
This story will be updated.