Large Kakaako food pantry could close if it can't find new home

Large Kakaako food pantry could close if it can't find new home
Published: Aug. 29, 2016 at 7:53 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 29, 2016 at 9:28 PM HST
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(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

KAKAAKO (HawaiiNewsNow) - For 15 years, Feeding Hawaii Together has handed out food from its Keawe Street warehouse to people in poverty.

Oahu's biggest "grocery store style" food pantry stores and distributes perishables that would otherwise spoil. And the free food means hungry families can use their limited funds for rent and other bills.

"People don't really understand that people are housed and hungry," Feeding Hawaii Together executive director Charlie Lorenz said. "We are preventing homelessness."

But now the non-profit is losing its home. The Kakaako property it sits on has been sold.

Lorenz said Feeding Hawaii Together needs to find another location or it will be forced to stop operating. That would cut off a food source for 1,200 people a week.

"It's dire for us. We don't have options at this point," board member Gil Berger said.

Relocating won't be easy. New space needs to be affordable. And Berger said 98 percent of commercial space in the city is taken.

"We need to find a space, preferably somewhere between Iwilei and Moiliili, somewhere in that vicinity so clients can get to us easily," he said.

Feeding Hawaii's warehouse encompasses 19,000 square feet, but Lorenz said the operation can downsize to 10,000 square feet.

"If we could get somewhere in Kakaako where the biggest needs are, that would be the best," he said.

Each year, the nonprofit gives out over three million pounds of food. Clients can "shop" at the location for a wide variety of perishable and non-perishable foods.

"That's the concept of the pantry, of the whole Feeding Hawaii Together," Berger said.

Lorenz adds the landlord has been "very kind" over the years.

The new property owner extended Feeding Hawaii's lease to the end of the year.

If the nonprofit can't find a new location, operations will begin shutting down on Dec. 1.

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