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Hawai‘iUSA helps keep keiki fed

LIHU‘E — The Hawai‘iUSA Federal Credit Union Foundation celebrated the presentation of a $1,000 award to the Kaua‘i Independent Food Bank (KIFB) in support of the KIFB Backpack Program, which is set up at nine different locations on Kaua‘i.

“We currently serve about 500 keiki each week,” said Kelvin Moniz, the executive director of the KIFB whose mission is to take care of the island’s keiki and kupuna population. “Our Backpack Program sends food home with school-aged keiki so they, and their family, can have food over the weekend.”

Moniz said the program started 17 years ago with the Boys &Girls Club in Waimea where the organization had a Keiki Cafe program of providing healthy food for after school keiki.

“We noticed that on Fridays, there were certain keiki that kept returning for more food,” Moniz said. “After researching this — we never told the keiki they could only come through, once, we found out that their family had no food for the weekend. Their second and third helpings would go home with them to feed their brothers and sisters.”

Moniz said the following year, the program was started at the Boys &Girls Club at the Kapa‘a Clubhouse. KIFB recently received a grant derived from the Taste of Hawai‘i from the Rotary Club of Kapa‘a to ensure the program’s operation for at least a year.

A newspaper article published on Friday by the Hawai‘i Tribune-Herald states that a study from the nonprofit Hunger Free America found that 137,000 people across Hawai‘i lived in food-insecure households between 2020 and 2022, including 14.7 percent of children, 8.3 percent of employed adults and 4.4 percent of older residents.

The study found that hunger is a serious problem across the country, being attributed to the ending of many federal benefits, such as the Child Tax Credit expansion and other living expenses rise.

Moniz agreed noting an incident on Christmas when he stopped by the Nawiliwili facility to check the mail.

“Almost as soon as I opened the door, someone appeared to ask for food,” Moniz said. “I gave him some food, but others showed up. It must’ve been an hour before I could close the door.”

Gretchen Hashimura, the Hawai‘iUSA Foundation’s Kaua‘i representative, reminded people that the foundation is accepting applications, especially from schools and Kaua‘i nonprofit organizations for the work they do in the community.

This is similar to the ongoing partnership with the Maui ‘oma Coffee Roasting Co., the Imua Family Services and the Hawai‘i USA FCU, which offers the Imua Blend coffee for the benefit of Maui children impacted by the recent wildfires.

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Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 808-245-0453 or dfujimoto@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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