Many heartbroken to see long lines again at food assistance site

Coronavirus

Hundreds of vehicles once again lined the street for Oahu’s second food distribution event at Aloha Stadium. The long line makes you aware of the significant need caused by COVID-19. At each distribution site, organizers prepare bags of food to about 4-thousand households or while supplies last. And people were already gathering by the stadium a couple of hours before Wednesday’s event started.

It doesn’t matter if you’re the one giving or receiving, it’s heartbreaking to see hundreds of families, some, waiting hours for help.

“It’s an indication that the system is broken. Going into COVID, we saw that there were too many families fragile already. One out of 2 families is one paycheck away from being in a financially catastrophic situation. So COVID exacerbated that,” said Micah Kane, CEO of the Hawaii Community Foundation.

“This helps out a lot because a lot of the stores, everybody is maxed buying everything,” said Ryssa Edayan, who was waiting in line. “It’s heartbreaking. It’s hard to think that so many people have to go through this just to get food.”

But with more volunteers and a different location, organizers are doing what they can.

“We are much more effective in here today. We started parking a little earlier,” said Ron Mizutani, Hawaii Food Bank CEO.

There will be more of these events. And up to 3 members from separate households per car is recommended.

“One thing I see a lot of today is single placards on cars and we encourage on future distribution to really come if you can with two or three households just to minimize traffic,” said Mizutani.

Two-million dollars from the city, Hawaii Resilience Fund of the Hawaii Community Foundation, and the Bank of Hawaii Foundation have made this food assistance program possible.

“So this is an example of the significant need right now. Whatever the reason is whether it be unemployment checks not coming in on time,” said Mizutani, “but also goes to show you how much Aloha Spirit we have and that’s something that I take away from.”

As they continue to do their part, some are hoping for change.

“We got to think through the fragility of our economy, the construct of our economy,” said Kane, “so that when the next pandemic comes, we are not seeing what we see here today.”

The next food assistance site will be at Leeward Community College this Friday.

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