The Gift of Food

Hunger is a growing problem in Honolulu, so stores that normally compete are cooperating in Check-Out Hunger. You can help feed a child, senior or family through the Hawaii Foodbank by purchasing one of these coupons at check-out counters of Safeway, Times and Don Quijote stores

Susan Sunderland
Wednesday - November 30, 2011
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Above from L to R: Liza Garcia-Mitchell, Clayton Eto, Gerald Shintaku, Tad Fujiwara, Sweetie Pacarro, Cheesy, Dick Grimm, Carl Fukushima, Floyd Mikasa, Polly Kauahi and Kevin Yoneshige. Nathalie Walker photo

The need has never been greater, so Safeway, Times and Don Quijote are hoping shoppers will purchase a coupon while checking out that will help the Hawaii Foodbank feed our hungry

What will the dinner conversation be like at your house tonight? For several hundred local households, the topic will be where the next meal’s coming from. They are digesting life one anxious moment at a time. They are certain only about one thing: uncertainty.

For a single parent in Waianae, there is nourishment on the table tonight because of a distribution from Hawaii Foodbank. She says it’s a lifeline in her otherwise desperate track of hardships. If she didn’t qualify for charitable help, what would she do?

She answers without hesitation, “My kids and I would shoplift.”

Anti-social behavior or survival instinct? The menu of life has many choices. But for some, unfortunate circumstances have put them in the soup kitchen of distress.

As Hawaii Foodbank’s annual Check-Out Hunger program begins, we have some table talk with its president Dick Grimm and campaign supporters. Gerald Shintaku, Kraft Foods in Hawaii Customer business manager, and Sweetie Pacarro, Hawaii Foodbank promotions spokeswoman, have brought several grocery retailers to join the conversation.

It’s rare to see major retailers such as Times, Safeway and Don Quijote at the same table unless there’s a serious labor negotiation going on. But charity and community goodwill trumps competitive spirit, especially during the holidays.

Purchasing a $2.81 coupon feeds a child breakfast for a week. Hawaii Foodbank photo

They join other participating retailers in an annual appeal for food and funds to feed kids, seniors and families in Hawaii. Kraft Foods has donated $40,000 to the campaign during the past seven years and kicks off this year’s program with a $5,000 donation.

Last year, Check-Out Hunger raised a record-breaking $217,783 for Hawaii’s hungry. Since the program’s inception in 1994, more than $1.5 million has been collected. Even during tough times, Hawaii’s shoppers open their pocketbooks and their hearts.

But the truth is even the nation’s food banks need a bailout. The recession is creating stronger demand at a time when food costs have escalated.

“As tough economic times take their toll, increasing numbers of people are on tight budgets and facing hunger,” says Grimm. As a result, they are learning more about food banks than they ever wanted to know.

“It’s gotten worse the last couple of years,” Grimm adds. “We have a shrinking inventory, and it’s tougher to keep a full warehouse for an ideal one-month supply. We have enough for 14 days right now.”

Charitable souls to the rescue, please. To facilitate donations, Kraft Foods and cooperating retailers place bright-green donation coupons at checkout stands. Customers tear off a $2.81, $12.43 or $16.84 coupon and hand it to the cashier

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