Hawaii Foodbank is ready to meet the evolving needs of our communities – during the pandemic and beyond.
As COVID-19 continues to impact Hawaii, Hawaii Foodbank now faces the unprecedented challenge of providing food for people affected by the pandemic while continuing to meet the nutritional needs of those who were already struggling with hunger. As closures and social distancing guidelines extend across our communities, the impact is being felt by more and more members of our ‘ohana. While these changes are disrupting the lives of nearly everyone in one way or another, those who struggle with hunger find themselves in a particularly vulnerable situation, and the number of people facing hunger is increasing at an alarming rate.
The Rising Need
Before the pandemic, Feeding America reported that food insecurity — a household’s inability to provide enough food for every person to live an active, healthy life — was the lowest it had been in decades. Even still, 1 in 8 Hawaii residents were facing food insecurity just two years ago.
The COVID-19 pandemic has produced an economic crisis unlike anything since the Great Depression, and the current crisis is likely to reverse the improvements that have occurred over the past decade. Since the onset of the pandemic, food insecurity in Hawaii has grown by more than 60 percent — representing the fifth highest percentage increase in the United States.
Now, nearly a quarter of a million Hawaii residents are currently struggling with hunger. Among them are out-of-work parents, isolated kūpuna and 1 in 4 keiki.
As an essential public service, Hawaii Foodbank has put various solutions in place to be able to continue providing safe food access throughout the pandemic.
- In order to meet the growing need, we have launched various Pop-up Food Distributions across O‘ahu and Kaua‘i to accommodate the large numbers of Hawaii residents who have lost access to food due to COVID-19.
- Where possible, we are implementing drive-through distribution methods at Pop-up Food Distributions, as well as at our regular ‘Ohana Produce Plus distribution sites, to help facilitate social distancing and other public safety guidelines.
- We are working closely with our network of food partner agencies to help keep as many food assistance opportunities open as possible. Currently, more than 200 food partner agencies on O‘ahu and Kaua‘i are ready and available to help.
- Need help finding food? A variety of food pantries, soup kitchens, community centers and other food distributions sites remain resilient and are ready to help. Find a food assistance opportunity near you.
- Staff and volunteers are regularly pre-packing emergency food boxes for distribution. This allows us to serve large quantities of people more efficiently while also maintaining social distancing and other public safety guidelines.
- To ensure that our warehouses will have sufficient inventory during and after this public health crisis, we’ve had to purchase more food than ever before. Since mid-March, we have had to purchase more than $5.25 million worth of emergency food. Our regular annual budget is $400,000.
- To help establish long-term food security and contribute to Hawaii’s self-sustainability, our team has been working hard to strengthen longtime partnerships, as well as the cultivate new relationships with organizations like Hawaii Farm Bureau and Hawaii Longline Association. Our food systems in Hawaii will emerge stronger because of this health crisis.
Face of Courage
Since the onset of COVID-19, the face of hunger in Hawaii has evolved. But so has the face of courage. While the current health crisis continues to test our resiliency, it has also revealed something far greater – Hawaii’s strength.
To all the essential workers and our unwavering community who supports us – thank you for keeping us safe and allowing us to never stop providing safe food access to everyone who needs it. From all of us at Hawaii Foodbank, “Mahalo.”
Help us respond to the increased need.Help our communities #RiseResiliently.
As Hawaii’s leading hunger-relief organization, Hawaii Foodbank is judiciously drawing upon its resources to meet today’s need, as well as plan for the recovery ahead. We remain committed to our mission of providing safe food access to every member of our ‘ohana, and we’re able to do so because of your support.
Amidst uncertainty, Hawaii always responds with unwavering courage, strength and aloha. This steadfast support keeps us inspired, reminding us that we can — and we will — #RiseResiliently from this pandemic. Together.
Hawaii Foodbank is committed first and foremost to the health and safety of our community, our clients, our volunteers and our precious staff.
We have taken many precautions to help make sure that our food and product remain safe, our distributions and volunteer activities continue, and, ultimately, our communities have access to the food they need while preventing the spread of COVID-19.
Hawaii Foodbank is following the recommended guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the State of Hawaii Department of Health. In addition, Hawaii Foodbank has implemented proactive and voluntary steps to help reduce contact and/or spread of COVID-19, including:
- Providing gloves to all volunteers handling food at our warehouse facilities
- Increasing the availability of hand-sanitizing stations throughout our warehouse facilities
- Increasing the visibility of signage and emphasizing the importance of hand-washing in the restrooms and throughout our warehouse facilities
- Advising people to avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
- Advising people to avoid close contact with others who are sick
- Advising staff and volunteers to stay home if they display signs of illness or come into contact with affected individuals
- Increasing the frequency of deep-cleaning and sanitization beyond our already-aggressive standards and taking additional steps to ensure the safety of donated food