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Caldwell says last mass food distribution event to take place Friday

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Mayor Kirk Caldwell's Facebook page
                                Mayor Kirk Caldwell speaking at press conference.
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Mayor Kirk Caldwell speaking at press conference.

                                Mayor Kirk Caldwell speaking at press conference.

The city is offering one more mass distribution of food on Oahu — the last large one for the year — at Aloha Stadium this coming Friday.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced this afternoon during a news conference at Honolulu Hale that private sector partners had raised another $185,000 to offer this giveaway on Friday, a week before Christmas. The City is contributing another $200,000 of federal coronavirus relief funds.

“The private sector who’s standing with us in this room today raised a whole bunch more money to help make sure that Christmas is a brighter one for families,” said Caldwell.

The food distribution event from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Aloha Stadium this Friday will go to 3,500 households. But all reservations for slots, which opened a week ago, are already full, according to organizers.

To date, the city has partnered with organizations to donate about 3.7 million pounds of food to nearly 80,500 households. The city has conducted 20 large food distribution events around Oahu in partnership with Hawaii Foodbank, and 127 smaller community distributions around city parks.

The City and County of Honolulu has spent about $17 million of federal coronavirus aid funds for meals and food support for the community, according to the mayor, through partners including the Hawaii Foodbank, Aloha Harvest, Salvation Army of Hawaii and Hawaii Farm Bureau.

The Friday event was possible due to the initiative of Carole Kai, founder of Carole Kai Charities, Commercial Plumbing President Randy Hiraki and aio found Duane Kurisu, who were also present at the conference, along with others.

Carole Kai, also founder of the Great Aloha Run which is scheduled to take place virtually in February, said the group felt the need to do something different this year due to the unprecedented times.

The Great Aloha Run, sponsored by Hawaii Pacific Health, is an annual fundraiser for local charities and in 2021, a portion of proceeds will go toward those affected by the pandemic, including the Hawaii Foodbank.

“Thank God the people of Hawaii are so wonderful because they’re still donating the monies so we can give a great portion for the Dec. 18 Foodbank distribution,” said Kai. “I’m really gratified that we have such wonderful people in Hawaii because without you we’re nothing, I’m just like the bypass, but you folks who’ve given so much are the real heroes and so I thank you very much.”

The Hawaii Foodbank says that food insecurity in Hawaii has grown by more than 50% since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, representing the fifth highest percentage increase in the United States. Among those in need of food are out-of work parents, keiki and isolated kupuna.

Caldwell recalled being at the first mass food distribution event in April at the Waipio Peninsula Soccer Complex, which caused traffic jams as thousands waited, some for four hours or more, to receive food.

“Hunger is not something to be ashamed of,” said Caldwell. “It’s something that the community, our ohana needs to help with. We should never pass judgment on someone because they may be wearing a nice shirt or driving a nice car or truck but showing up to get food at one of our distribution points because we don’t know the story behind them. These are people who have great pride and have done their part to take care of their families but because of the challenges couldn’t do so.”

Although the 3,500 slots for the Friday food distribution event are already full, those interested can sign up for a wait list, or find information about upcoming smaller distribution events at hawaiifoodbank.org.

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