Foodbank Reality; Invitation To Rob

Bob Jones
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Wednesday - April 05, 2006
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It’s a Wednesday morning and Ed Yrojo is grocery shopping for 111 adults and 33 children.

Ed runs the food program for the Kaneohe Seventh-day Adventist Church. The 144 people for whom he’s shopping are homeless who finagle back-to-back “camping” permits at the city’s Kualoa Regional Park.

But there’s the rain, the homeless crack-down and the closing of the park every Thursday for maintenance, and so things are a bit tough right now.


Then there are the housed people with so little income that the church has become their main food source - about 90 families some weeks.

Ed shops for them at the Hawaii Foodbank in Mapunapuna.

I thought the Foodbank was mainly about the homeless - those Institute for Human Services and River of Life Mission folks. Nope. It’s heavily weighted toward those who cannot afford both rent and adequate food.

Here’s a shock: 63 percent of its clients are people making do on less than $1,000 income a month. They come to about 250 agencies that run pantries or kitchens. The agencies go to the Foodbank.

Please keep this story front-of-mind when the Foodbank hits you up this “banking” month for money and food donations.

three star

In the Spike Lee/Denzel Washington movie Inside Man, a gang takes over a bank in Manhattan. The money is right there for the easy picking.

I’m hoping this movie might inspire federal bank insurance agencies to require better security before they refund another cent to banks ripe for robbery by any dolt with a cap, sunglasses and the ability to say “Give me the money.”

It’s become especially ridiculous in Hawaii.

For instance, this police press release: “A man dressed in a purple and pink dress, bleach-blonde wig and a baseball cap, walked into the bank and passed a note to the teller demanding money.”

I guess you had to see the surveillance photo to appreciate the clownishness of this character getting as far as a teller.


What’s our problem?

No armed guards. No auto-locking doors. Tellers in the open with drawers of cash.

The Australian government interviewed captured robbers and concluded that surveillance cameras do not deter robberies. Security guards do. But guards cost money.

The obvious alternative is to put computer screens at teller windows or have tellers behind bullet-proof glass with voice communication. The tellers can’t be hurt and robbers are unlikely to start shooting customers out of frustration. They’d not be frustrated because they’d already know they can’t hold up the place.

Absent that prevention, it seems rather stupid to me not to invest in armed security guards to force mostly-druggie robbers to reconsider, and use them as screen-ers who walk among the customers and are trained to spot the suspect types. Walk-and-talk might persuade would-be robbers they really don’t need to “bank” that day.

Show your banker this column.

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