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Food assistance program for recently unemployed set to begin in Waipi‘o

HONOLULU -- A public-private partnership between the City and County of Honolulu, the Bank of Hawaii Foundation and the Hawai‘i Community Foundation to provide food assistance to recently unemployed individuals is set to roll out Thursday, April 30, at Waipi‘o Peninsula Soccer Complex. The food distribution at 93-061 Waipi‘o Point Access Road, will run from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.

"It's so reaffirming to see people stepping up to help those who need the help during this unprecedented time," said Mayor Kirk Caldwell. "We are proud of the way the Hawai‘i Foodbank and the Hawai‘i Community Foundation, with the financial support of the Bank of Hawaii, have come together to help ease the burden of hundreds of thousands of people on O‘ahu right now who are struggling to feed their families."

"This is a wonderful example of collaboration between government, non-profits, and our local food service companies," said Honolulu Councilmember Brandon Elefante, who represents District 8. "The community is very grateful and appreciative of everyone's generous donations to this effort."

The goal is to have two distributions per week at venues across O‘ahu. Upcoming distribution locations, dates, and times are to be determined, and schedules will be posted on the Hawai‘i Foodbank's website. Multiple family pick-ups (two to three families per vehicle) are recommended and all orders will need to be picked up in a vehicle. Participants are asked to remain in their vehicles as we do our best to follow CDC guidelines regarding social distancing.

The Royal Hawaiian Band, under the direction of Clarke Bright, will assist the Hawai‘i Foodbank with the distributions. The band, which in a normal year performs over 350 concerts, has assisted in staffing the City's call center and performing other critical tasks during the pandemic. They will be engaged in transporting, packing and distributing the food to families in need.

The public-private initiative was spurred by the unprecedented demand on food banks in Hawaiʻi due to the financial consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on island families. With an economic downturn, closures and shorter business hours, and increased unemployment, demand for Hawai‘i Foodbank food assistance has increased nearly 60 percent and is expected to continue to rise.

In addition, the City and County of Honolulu matched a $1 million donation from the Hawai‘i Resilience Fund of the Hawai‘i Community Foundation (HCF) for COVID-19 relief efforts. The funds will go to the Hawai‘i Foodbank to deploy food distributions at the new locations across O‘ahu. This will be in addition to the existing food distributions at 200 Hawai‘i Foodbank Partner Agencies island wide.

Four food partners -- Sysco Hawai‘i; Hawai‘i Foodservice Alliance; Hawai‘i Ranchers Kaua‘i, Hawai‘i Island, Maui and O‘ahu; and the Hawai‘i Farm Bureau-- will provide high-quality food products for an estimated 4,000 households at each distribution site. Several community partners, including Hawai‘i Counts 2020 Census, Child & Family Service, the Domestic Violence Action Center, and the American Job Centers will also be on hand to provide valuable information to recipients.

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