Innovative public-private partnership to provide meals to the newly unemployed
City and County of Honolulu, Bank of Hawai‘i Foundation and Hawai‘i Community Foundation Hawai‘i Resilience Fund donate $2 million to the Hawai‘i Foodbank Initiative
News Release from City and County of Honolulu, April 24, 2020
HONOLULU – To help O‘ahu rise resiliently, Mayor Kirk Caldwell today announced an innovative public-private partnership to provide food assistance to recently unemployed individuals. The City & County of Honolulu matched a $1 million donation from the Hawai‘i Resilience Fund of the Hawai‘i Community Foundation (HCF) for COVID-19 relief efforts. The funds will go to Hawai‘i Foodbank to deploy food distributions at four new locations across O‘ahu beginning Thursday, April 30, 2020. This will be in addition to the existing food distributions at 200 Hawaii Foodbank Partner Agencies island wide.
“There are hundreds of thousands of people on O‘ahu right now who are struggling to make ends meet, and wondering how long this will all last,” said Mayor Kirk Caldwell. “We are partnering with the Hawai‘i Community Foundation and Hawai‘i Foodbank to reach out to these people, and hopefully ease the burden of wondering how they’re going to put food on the table. In order for us to get through this, we all need to come up with creative solutions and work together to help those in need.”
The Bank of Hawai‘i Foundation donated $3 million to the Hawai‘i Resilience Fund of the Hawai‘i Community Foundation to address the growing social and economic impacts of COVID‑19 in Hawai‘i. From their donation, $750,000 will be used for this effort on O‘ahu and $250,000 will be deployed to feed families on the neighbor islands. “Our hope is that this donation can relieve the stress that so many are experiencing right now to provide food for their families,” says Peter S. Ho, chairman, president and CEO of Bank of Hawai‘i. “We remain committed to making a significant impact on Hawai‘i’s needs in the broadest way possible throughout this pandemic.”
The new food distribution will kick off on Thursday, April 30, 2020, from 12 noon to 4 p.m. at Waipi‘o Soccer Complex. The goal is to have two distributions per week alternating at four venues: Kaka‘ako Waterfront Park, Kaiaka Bay Beach Park (Hale‘iwa), Waimānalo District Park, and Waipi‘o Soccer Complex. Dates and times are to be determined, and schedules will be posted on Hawai‘i Foodbank’s website. Multiple family pick-ups (two to three families per vehicle) are recommended.
Four food partners – Sysco Hawaii; Hawai‘i Foodservice Alliance; Hawai‘i Ranchers Kaua‘i, Hawai‘i Island, Maui and O‘ahu; and Hawai‘i Farm Bureau– will provide high-quality food products for an estimated 4,000 households at each distribution site. Several community partners, including Hawai‘i Counts 2020 Census, Child & Family Service, Domestic Violence Action Center, and City’s American Job Center will also be on hand to provide valuable information to recipients.
The Royal Hawaiian Band, under the direction of Clarke Bright, will assist Hawai‘i Foodbank with the distributions. The band, which in a normal year performs over 350 concerts, has assisted in staffing the city’s call center and performing other critical tasks during the pandemic. They will be engaged in transporting, packing and distributing the food to families in need.
“There are no words to adequately express our gratitude and appreciation for the Bank of Hawai‘i Foundation, the Hawai‘i Community Foundation, and the City & County of Honolulu,” said Hawai‘i Foodbank President and CEO Ron Mizutani. “It’s an incredible gift that will not only provide food assistance for the recently unemployed but also provide financial support to key players in Hawai‘i’s food economy—and help kickstart a conversation about the importance of local food sources. Together, we will rise resiliently.”
The public-private initiative was spurred by the unprecedented demand on food banks in Hawaiʻi due to the financial consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on island families. With an economic downturn, closures and shorter business hours, and increased unemployment, demand for Hawaii Foodbank food assistance has increased nearly 60 percent and is expected to continue to rise.
"The ILWU Local 142 looks forward to working with Mayor Caldwell and other organizations and businesses to help feed our members and their families and all workers who have unfortunately lost their jobs during this pandemic. Now is the time for all of us to work together to help uplift our communities and those in need", said Michael Yamaguchi, Oʻahu Division Director, ILWU Local 142.
Pamela A. Witty-Oakland, Director for the Department of Community Services said, “The COVID-19 public health emergency has compounded the many challenges faced by many of Oʻahu’s residents, who may be new to unemployment. The city and HCF’s partnership with Hawaii Foodbank will provide critical aid to those who need it most.”
UNITE HERE! Local 5 is proud to partner with the city in organizing the food distribution. Eric Gill, Local 5 Financial Secretary-Treasurer, stated, "We are pleased that the city is taking the lead in organizing, sharing, and cooperation to address an urgent community need. Working together is what is necessary for all of us to emerge from this crisis healthy and strong."