Dining Out For The Foodbank

Jo McGarry
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Wednesday - August 15, 2007
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Chai Chaowassaree’s Island Bistro is one of the places you can dine out Aug. 30 to support the Hawaii Foodbank
Chai Chaowassaree’s Island Bistro is one of the places you can dine out Aug. 30 to support the Hawaii Foodbank

I usually write a column on the Hawaii Foodbank in November of each year. That’s when it kicks off its Fight Hunger Campaign in conjunction with Kraft Foods Hawaii and our local supermarkets.

It’s something that hits home for a lot of us, especially during the holiday season when we’re more aware of sharing family meals and the bounty of food on our tables than at any other time.

This past holiday season, funds raised totaled more than $110,000, but despite these donations, the Hawaii Foodbank is low on supplies again. And most of the reasons are beyond the control of the organizing staff.

“The main reason that we’re low on food is that the method by which retailers and wholesalers do business has changed,” says Dick Grimm, Hawaii Foodbank president. Here’s what used to happen: When a supermarket had too much of any one item, the wholesaler would issue a credit to the store. Once the store proved it was no longer selling the item, that item - whether it be a damaged can or a soon-to-be-expired package of ramen - was then donated to the food bank.

“A couple of years ago that all changed,” says Grimm, “and now retailers are given a credit against goods which typically end up for sale in discount bins.”

No one is blaming the stores or the wholesalers for trying to run their businesses more efficiently, it’s just that now a loophole that once worked for the food bank has been closed.

And we also have a problem in Hawaii with our unemployment rate. Because it’s so low, USDA assumes that more people are working and therefore fewer people need assistance. What no analysis takes into consideration is that you can work two jobs in Hawaii and still hit the poverty line.

So here’s where we come in. Donations of canned goods are accepted daily at the food bank on Kilihau Street, and as always, the most requested items include non-perishable, long-lasting foods like saimin, canned tuna and rice.

I know that with the daily chaos of school runs, soccer practice, work, housekeeping and the enormous effort it takes to be part of a family, probably the last thing you need to add to your schedule is another donation, but being part of a community means so much more than just living in a community. We need to take care of our hungry children. And if you’re someone who feels that donating food is not your responsibility, then please put politics and prejudice aside. In a truly caring community, how can we ignore the fact that 33,000 of our children don’t have enough to eat?

You can drop off canned goods at Ruby Tuesday restaurants, or if you’re just too busy, then here’s an easer way to help. Dine at any of the following restaurants Aug. 30 and they’ll donate a portion of your check to the Hawaii Foodbank: Murphy’s Bar and Grill, Big City Diner, Buzz’s Steakhouse, Phuket Thai, Chai’s Island Bistro and Top of Waikiki.

For more information and a complete restaurant listing, you can go to hawaiifoodbank.org.

I know you’re busy, but I also know you care.

Happy eating - and giving!

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