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Feeding Hawaii’s Hungry For 25 Years

This 1989 Hawaii Foodbank newsletter touts the first food drive | Photo from Jade Moon

This 1989 Hawaii Foodbank newsletter touts the first food drive | Photo from Jade Moon

The annual Hawaii Foodbank Food Drive has kicked off and this one is pretty special – the 25th anniversary of the food drive.

Twenty-five years! That’s a long time, and yet feels like the blink of an eye.

Take a look at the photo of the 1989 newsletter, the year the food drive started. The photo, in case you can’t read the tiny print, includes (from left) Hawaii Foodbank Board member Don Clephane, board chairman David Haig, Gov. John Waihee, Hawaii Foodbank associate director Puna Haili, and Hawaii Foodbank president and CEO John White.

White was the founder of Hawaii Food-bank, and we owe him a debt of gratitude. He started in May 1983 with one driver and a modest warehouse at Sand Island. Although his operation was small, his vision was huge.

His first food drive in 1989 was fairly successful for a startup: It brought in 25,000 pounds of food and $5,500 in cash donations.

The very next year, the media became involved. Our KGMB news director at the time, Terry Heaton, was a strong believer in community service. It was he who initiated what would be an enduring relationship with Hawaii Foodbank that continues to this day.

Joining us that year were Professional Communications, KPOI 98 Rock and First Hawaiian Bank. The 1990 food drive brought in 221,000 pounds of food and $31,000 in monetary donations. Wow!

Twenty-five years ago, most people didn’t really see hunger as a problem. It wasn’t part of the public’s collective consciousness. But over the years, the need has increased exponentially, and so has public awareness. Nowadays, everybody knows somebody who needs help.

So it’s heartening that so many of you have opened your hearts and your wallets. Last year the food drive collected enough donations to provide 1 million meals – enough to feed 183,500 different individuals, including 55,000 children and 11,000 seniors.

Most people understand we are part of the safety net. We really can’t depend on the government to do it all. As proof, look at how 2014 is starting off. The emergency unemployment funds that many families depend on may or may not be renewed; food stamp benefits are frozen. There are more working families than ever before in danger of falling through the cracks. Too many already have fallen.

I know it sounds like I’m repeating myself, but people need our help.

So thank you. Thank you for linking hands with us. Thank you for sticking with us. Some of you have been with us for the entire 25 years. Others have just joined in the efforts. We welcome you all.

Let’s make this year’s food drive a success.