Hawaii Meals Financial institution, which serves 80,000 folks a month through the pandemic
HILO – A food bank on the Island of Hawaii has expanded its services significantly since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic and supplies up to 80,000 people a month.
The Food Basket was helping about 14,000 people a month around that time last year, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported on Wednesday.
Executive Director Kristin Frost Albrecht said the group was helping residents through a network of partner agencies and programs.
The food basket supplies between 2,000 and 3,700 people at each of its locations on the Big Island, and 80% to 85% of them are unemployed, Albrecht said.
People have to register and qualify for the program, which normally delivers them 18-kilogram boxes of groceries every month, Albrecht said.
The food basket is facing crises, said Albrecht.
“In the past few years we’ve had hurricanes and lava, but nothing like it,” she said.
Ohana Food Drop, the organization’s premier pandemic program, began in March as a safe way to deliver food to people who need it.
The food bank’s Kupuna Pantry, a program for older adults run in coordination with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, became a transit program in March and serves around 1,100 people, Albrecht said.
The high demand and difficulty in obtaining food from the Temporary Agricultural Food Aid program has resulted in the organization buying more food than ever before.
The organization routinely spends between $ 350,000 and $ 450,000 monthly on grocery purchases.
The grocery basket received $ 653,000 in federal coronavirus aid and $ 643,000 in community development block grant funds. Additional grants of $ 223,000 are pending approval.
Albrecht said the organization was supported by numerous donations, including food contributions from farmers. She recognized the community’s support for the successful expansion of the services.
“It’s a significant change and sometimes it takes our breath away, but we’ve adapted and that’s the key,” said Albrecht. “We have adapted and the community has adapted exactly with us.”
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as a fever and cough, which will improve in two to three weeks. Some – especially older adults and people with existing health problems – can develop more serious illnesses such as pneumonia and death.
The number of infections is believed to be far higher as many people have not been tested. Studies have shown that people can become infected with the virus without feeling sick.