Food pantry charity and mental health services see increased demand


The holiday dinners this weekend will be very different during these times when many families are struggling to put food on their tables, while food pantry charities and other services are seeing increased demand.

The Hawaii Foodbank said they are seeing at least a 30% increase in need since the stay-at-home order, but food constraints are not the only issue locals are facing, people are seeking ways to deal with the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Moulika Hitchens with Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center, partners with the Hawaii Foodbank to feed keiki through a grab and go food program at four schools and food pantries at nine others.

Hitchens said, “Last year when we started in partnership with the Foodbank we distributed a little over 198,000 pounds of food, through the schools and ohana nights, which are large community food distributions but within the last three weeks we already hit about 100,000 pounds.”

She said in just three weeks they have served almost half of the meals they did the entire last year.

Hitchens said, “Not only do families count on but even folks who may have resources you know who never relied on the food bank are now in those lines.”

As COVID-19 continues to unfold, there has also been an increase in mental health services. The Hawaii Psychological Association is helping locals deal with stress and anxiety through these trying times.

Dr. Robin Miyamoto, Public Education Chair for the Hawaii Psychological Association said being out of work and stuck at home could be a stressful time for many.

“Take ten minutes to where you are not connected to social media, you are not on your phone and not watching television,” Miyamoto said. “Really just taking that time to focus on your thoughts and your breath can really make a big difference in your patience level and your ability to cope.”

Miyamoto said most insurance companies are waiving the co-pay for their tele-health services, while a limited number of people who are currently without coverage may be able to get services pro bono.

People who are able to help are being encourage to support organization like the Hawaii Foodbank and partner Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center through donations.

On Saturday August, 11, The Salvation Army Hawaiian and Pacific Islands will have a drive-through food distribution outside Ala Moana Center at the trolley area on Atkinson Drive, cars can begin lining up at 9:30 AM. Everyone is being asked to stay in their cars and food items will be placed inside the trunk in order to practice social distancing.

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