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Food Insecurity

Food is a basic human right. Nearly 1 in 3 households in Hawai‘i are food insecure — meaning they can't access the food they need to thrive.

Food insecurity in Hawai‘i is a complex issue. In order to address it, we must first understand it. To deepen understanding of food insecurity at the local level and to continue to strengthen opportunities for the communities we serve, Hawai‘i Foodbank commissioned The State of Food Insecurity in Hawai‘i, a comprehensive report that examines food insecurity in Hawai‘i.

The State of Food Insecurity in Hawai‘i

The State of Food Insecurity in Hawai‘i is the first report of its kind to comprehensively evaluate food insecurity in Hawai‘i using the full United States Household Food Security Survey Module (US HFSSM), the most validated food security measurement tool applied in population studies. The report provides critical insights for programs and policies seeking to improve food security. Overall, the findings suggest that, at 30%, food insecurity in Hawai‘i is a significant issue that will require targeted, collaborative and comprehensive solutions from all of us in the community

Nearly 1 in 3 Hawai‘i households are struggling with food insecurity.

In 29% of households with children, one or more keiki are food insecure.

What is Food Insecurity?

Food insecurity is the lack of access to enough food for an active, healthy life. It’s when people don’t have enough to eat and don’t know where their next meal will come from.

Food insecurity manifests in different ways — ranging from concerns about running out of food before there is money to buy more, to the inability to afford a balanced diet, reducing food intake, missing meals altogether, and, in extreme cases, not eating for whole days because of a lack of food and money.

Who Can Experience Food Insecurity?

The majority of people in Hawai‘i facing food insecurity are keiki, working families and adults living by themselves. But, food insecurity can happen to anyone. Food insecurity is part of a larger stystemic issue; it’s often a symptom of economic hardship and structural disparity — not an indication of personal failure.

For some, food insecurity is a temporary challenge. This can be caused by a job loss, an illness or medical expense, or any other unexpected income shock. In Hawai‘i, many families and individuals find themselves one paycheck away from facing food insecurity.

For others, food insecurity presents a more persistent, ongoing challenge. Key barriers include cost of living, unemployment, insufficient income, lack of access to transportation, health problems and other factors that can prevent adequate access to food.

Food insecurity is a complex issue that cannot be solved with one singular approach nor by one entity alone. Rather, alleviating food insecurity must be a shared community responsibility — one that unites efforts of food banks with both the public and private sector to ignite change.

Effects of Food Insecurity

Taken all together, food insecurity presents complex, long-term challenges linked to many negative health and socioeconomic outcomes, and, with 30% of Hawaii’s households considered food insecure, represents a major problem for the state.

Health and Well-Being

Food insecurity presents complex, long-term challenges linked to many negative health and socioeconomic outcomes, and represents a major problem for the state. Food insecure people face:

Keiki and Long-Term Development

Food insecurity negatively impacts children at every age.

Economic Impact

Food insecurity presents a serious public health problem for the entire community. When extrapolated, these considerations take a serious toll on health care resources and the economy.

No One Should Experience Food Insecurity

Whether you need help finding food or are ready to lend help to another member of our ‘ohana, we’re here to help connect you.

Elevating Voices in Our Community

The movement to end hunger in Hawai‘i begins with putting people facing hunger at the center of everything we do. Read stories from around our ‘ohana to learn more about how food insecurity affects our communities, as well as how we can join together to end hunger for good.

Cultivating Connection: Alyson’s Story

A new food subscription program from agency partner ‘Elepaio Social Services aims to provide community members with greater access to fresh, locally grown produce. For Alyson Hiapo, this means an opportunity to reconnect with health and ‘āina.
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Feeding Our Future

Feeding Our Future: Iliana’s Story

After a year like no other, the last thing a child should have to worry about is how their family is going to find the meals they used to get at school. As families continue to get back on their feet, Hawaii Foodbank is here to make sure they have meals on the table.
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Kamalani Dung

Full Circle: Kamalani’s Story

Professional softball player Kamalani Dung has experienced many highs and lows in her life, and she’s grateful for each and every one of them. For the 23-year-old right-hander from Wai‘anae, Hawaii Foodbank’s mission is personal, and she’s ready to pitch in for Hawaii's hungry communities.
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Ferdinand's Story

Overwhelming Joy: Ferdinand’s Story

For years, Ferdinand made the drive from Waipahu to Kapolei, working as a housekeeper in the hospitality industry. But after tourism shut down in response to COVID-19, Ferdinand was furloughed. The other members of his household — all hotel workers — were also out of work.
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Hawaii Foodbank Volunteer Auntie Audrey

Building Rainbows: Auntie Audrey’s Story

Audrey Wong has been a face of hope in Waimānalo for many years. Her story with Hawaii Foodbank began more than two decades ago when a friend invited her to help families in need at a nearby elementary school.
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Hawaii Foodbank Volunteer Sweets Wright

Still Writing: Sweets’ Story

Having grown up in Papakōlea with seven siblings, Sweets understands the ongoing challenge of trying to make ends meet. “The struggle is real for so many families in Hawaii,” says Sweets. “My husband and I do our best to provide for our two children and seven grandchildren; but, even though we work, it’s difficult.”
Read More >

About Hawai‘i Foodbank

As Hawai‘i’s largest hunger-relief organization, Hawai‘i Foodbank works collaboratively with a network of more than 225 agency partners on O‘ahu and Kaua‘i, along with affiliate food banks Maui Food Bank and The Food Basket, to provide food assistance to the State of Hawai‘i. Hawai‘i Foodbank is currently serving nearly 160,000 people each month and, last year, distributed food for nearly 17 million nutritious meals — a quarter of which was fresh, healthy produce. Hawai‘i Foodbank stands ready with its partners across the state and nation to develop targeted, collaborative and comprehensive strategies to continue to meet the community’s immediate needs while also working to expand its long-term impact.

Nationwide Support and Accountability

Hawai‘i Foodbank is a certified member of Feeding America – the nation’s largest hunger-relief organization, encompassing a network of 200 food banks across the United States. Certification means Hawai‘i Foodbank is held to the highest standards for food handling, storage and distribution, financial management, organizational stability, board governance, and more.

Federal Poverty Guidelines

Household Size
200% Monthly Gross Income (BBCE Household)
130% Monthly Gross Income (Regular Household)
100% Monthly Net Income
1
$2,606
$1,694
$1,303
2
$3,510
$2,282
$1,755
3
$4,416
$2,870
$2,208
4
$5,320
$3,458
$2,660
5
$6,226
$4,047
$3,113
6
$7,130
$4,635
$3,565
7
$8,036
$5,223
$4,018
8
$8,940
$5,811
$4,470
9
$9,846
$6,400
$4,923
10
$10,752
$6,989
$5,376
11
$11,658
$7,578
$5,829
12
$12,564
$8,167
$6,282
13
$13,470
$8,756
$6,735
14
$14,376
$9,345
$7,188
15
$15,282
$9,934
$7,641
16
$906
$589
$453

Note: 200% BBCE Monthly Gross Income (MGI) is based on 100% SNAP Federal Poverty Level (FPL)
BBCE – Broad-based Categorical Eligibility

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Federal Poverty Guidelines

Household Size
200% Monthly Gross Income
(BBCE Household)
130% Monthly Gross Income
(Regular Household)
100% Monthly Net Income
1
$2,606
$1,694
$1,303
2
$3,510
$2,282
$1,755
3
$4,416
$2,870
$2,208
4
$5,320
$3,458
$2,660
5
$6,226
$4,047
$3,113
6
$7,130
$4,635
$3,565
7
$8,036
$5,223
$4,018
8
$8,940
$5,811
$4,470
9
$9,846
$6,400
$4,923
10
$10,752
$6,989
$5,376
11
$11,658
$7,578
$5,829
12
$12,564
$8,167
$6,282
13
$13,470
$8,756
$6,735
14
$14,376
$9,345
$7,188
15
$15,282
$9,934
$7,641
16
$906
$589
$453

Note: 200% BBCE Monthly Gross Income (MGI) is based on 100% SNAP Federal Poverty Level (FPL)
BBCE – Broad-based Categorical Eligibility