Hawaii’s food banks are under strain; ‘The Perfect Storm’

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HONOLULU (KHON2) — Food banks across Hawaii are running out of supplies and The Food Basket on the island of Hawaii called it the perfect storm.

Inflation, high costs and a stretched federal program have local food banks scrambling for donations.

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The food basket is down to a few days’ supply and the Hawaii Island nonprofit said pandemic demand left too much work for the federal emergency food program.

“And there are disruptions in the supply chain and so that puts a lot of pressure on us to try to find other ways to get food,” said Kristin Frost Albrecht, executive director of The Food Basket. “As you know prices have gone up significantly and that means the people we serve, the numbers have gone up as well.”

“People keep saying it’s the perfect storm, it’s actually the perfect storm.”

Kristin Frost Albrecht, Executive Director of The Food Basket

The food basket served 14,000 people a month before the pandemic. This number was up to 84,000 at the peak.

“So that’s come down a bit as things got better and people went back to work, but we’re still serving about 50,000 people a month,” Albrecht said.

The Food Basket said they had already started cutting spending; a canned good for those who would normally have two. There are ways to help, Click here to donate to the food basket.

There is a problem similar to Maui Food Bank.

“The cost of food just skyrocketed,” Maui Food Bank executive director Rich Yust said, “15, 20, 30 percent off certain items and that can really weigh on families on tight budgets.”

Yust said the number of people they help has also increased since the start of the pandemic.

“Before the pandemic, about 10,000 a month,” Yust said, “and now we’re up to 12-13,000 a month.

The Hawaii Food Bank said their numbers were about 50% higher than in 2019, but there is hope. The USDA recently approved more than $1 billion in funding for food banks and school lunch programs.

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“We don’t know exactly what the impact will be on Hawaii in terms of the flow of those dollars, but $1.5 billion in the USDA system should have a pretty big impact,” said Amy Martin, president and CEO of Hawaii Foodbank.

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