The city is teaming up with the Hawaii Community Foundation and the Hawaii Foodbank to help feed an estimated 256,000 people over the next eight weeks who have been hit financially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced the public-private partnership Friday, saying the city is matching the foundation’s $1 million donation to provide relief for the recently unemployed by setting up four new food distribution sites on Oahu.
The foundation’s contribution from its Hawaii Resilience Fund will not only benefit Oahu residents; $250,000 of its $1 million donation will go to feed neighbor island families in need.
Caldwell, who held his daily COVID-19 news conference at the Foodbank, said the aid is meant to assist a gap group of people on the unemployment roll who had good-paying jobs and who never had to face hunger or seek help from the Foodbank before.
The foundation’s contribution was made possible thanks to the Bank of Hawaii Foundation’s $3 million donation to the Hawaii Resilience Fund to ease the social and economic impacts of the pandemic.
“Our hope is that this donation can relieve the stress that so many are experiencing right now to provide food for their families,” said Peter Ho, chairman, president and CEO of Bank of Hawaii, in a written statement.
Hawaii Foodbank CEO Ron Mizutani noted that with the demand for food assistance so high, inventory is low. “The needs are so significant in Hawaii right now. On Oahu, we instantly saw a spike of 30% in food, and that’s grown to 60%.”
He said Hawaii ranchers, farmers and others have responded to the call for help to meet the needs.
The four new food distribution sites will be set up at Kaiaka Bay Beach Park in Haleiwa, Waimanalo District Park, the Waipio Soccer Complex and Kakaako Waterfront Park. The goal is to have two distributions per week, rotating among the four venues, according to a city news release. Dates and times will be announced.
The new sites are in addition to the existing food distributions provided by 200 Hawaii Foodbank partner agencies.
Kickoff for the new program will be noon to 4 p.m. Thursday at the Waipio Soccer Complex.
Mizutani said to check hawaiifoodbank.org for updates.
He emphasized the Foodbank already is providing food for those in need at soup kitchens, at drive-thrus at Windward and Waianae malls, through keiki and kupuna programs and in other places.