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Nearly 18,000 pounds of food distributed

LIHU‘E — The driver deliberately avoided the gaze of the traffic monitor, and instead of exiting turned back into the line of cars waiting to claim food packages Thursday at Vidinha Stadium.

“They didn’t listen,” said kumu hula Leina‘ala Pavao-Jardin, who was volunteering at Na Ho‘omaka Hou food distribution. “It’s only one. I only missed one in all that line of cars claiming their share of the 500 food packages. Whenever I volunteer, they assign me to where I need to say ‘mahalo’ and ‘aloha.’”

Wes Perreira, the director of the Hawai‘i Foodbank Kaua‘i Branch, simply smiled.

“This is not bad,” he said, checking his watch. “Forty minutes. The line is gone. To process this much in such a short period of time is not bad at all.”

The Hawai‘i Foodbank Kaua‘i Branch, in cooperation with partners like the Kaua‘i United Way, Esaki’s Produce, Hawai‘i Food Alliance and Kaua‘i Shrimp, made short work of the 500 food packages given to those with reserved appointments that were completely booked leading to the Thursday distribution.

“Those coming through without registrations get something, too,” said Michelle Panoke of the foodbank. “There’re $25 Safeway Stores gift cards. They get one for each car that doesn’t have appointments.”

Lines of cars dotted both sides of the stadium parking lot, snaking through six distribution stations manned by volunteers including Hawaiian Airlines, Hawai‘i Health Systems Corporation Kaua‘i Region, Alu Like kupuna, Esaki’s Jiu Jitsu and others.

The foodbank’s Tish Ruiz, juggling between moving cartloads of pre-packaged canned goods, directing traffic through the six stations and teaching the ropes to the foodbank’s new warehouse supervisor Malia Banquel, said more than 17,700 pounds of food were distributed.

“That’s not counting the donations,” Ruiz said. “We got donations of fresh Kaua‘i-produced shrimp from Kaua‘i Shrimp, apples and potatoes from Esaki’s Produce, and eggs and bread from the Hawai‘i Food Alliance food service.”

Na Ho‘omaka Hou pop-up food distribution was supposed to end with the Thursday distribution at Vidinha Stadium, but Ruiz said they are scheduling another distribution for May 15 with the Kaua‘i Filipino Women’s Club and Barbara Green as the club’s president.

“This one will be at the Kaua‘i Philippine Cultural Center,” said Charlmaine Bulosan, a volunteer with the Kaua‘i Filipino Community Council. “Appointments can be made starting May 8. You need an appointment to get food.”

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

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