HONOLULU (KHON2) — While life is slowly getting back to normal, many are still struggling to put food on the table because of the COVID pandemic.

According to Feeding America, there has been a 51% increase since 2019 in the number of Hawaii residents who are dealing with food insecurity. Since COVID-19 arrived in the islands, the Hawaii Foodbank is rarely quiet.

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“We went from moving an average of about 46,000 pounds of food through the warehouse every day, and that actually tripled just about overnight,” said Amy Marvin, the CEO of the Hawaii Foodbank.

The year 2020 was a wake up call for many. Thousands of people from all walks of life were out of work and hungry.

The lines at food distribution drives during the summer of 2020 seemed endless.

“I think the pandemic opened our eyes. It’s not just, you know, other folks that are houseless. It is affecting so many people, and you may not know. It might be someone right down the street. It could be you.”

Amy Marvin, the CEO of the Hawaii Foodbank

The feeling of going to sleep hungry is something Marielle Terbio has experienced first-hand.

“I was maybe eight or 10 years old where we were literally eating to the back of our pantry and like, you know, I think to just be a kid and think like, ‘how are we going to get our next meal?'” Terbio said.

Terbio is now the Director of Community Engagement for the Hawaii Foodbank. Her history with food insecurity is what makes her so passionate about helping others going through the same thing.

While many are back to work, there is still an alarming number of Hawaii residents going to sleep hungry.

“About one in six people in Hawaii is at risk for food insecurity — that includes one in four children. About 81,000 keiki in Hawaii are food insecure this year. That’s the second highest rate of child food insecurity in the country,” Marvin explained.

For the foodbank, 2021 has presented a new challenge. Now, it is dealing with an added challenge: supply chain issues, shipping delays and inflation.

Many of the items in the Hawaii Foodbank’s warehouse is donated from grocery stores so that they do not go to waste. However, if store shelves are bare or low that means less food is being given to the foodbank, which means it has to purchase more food.

The Hawaii Foodbank has already been purchasing a lot of food. It went from buying about $450,000 worth of food a year to spending an average of about $1 million a month to keep up with demand.

Hawaii residents can help by either donating to the Hawaii Foodbank or by donating their time. Kids as young as eight-years-old can volunteer at the Hawaii Foodbank.

“For every dollar that you donate to the food bank, we can actually provide food for more than two meals,” Marvin added.

If you need help, Terbio said to not be ashamed.

“When I was a kid, like, I was ashamed of that and there are families that are dealing with that shame,” Terbio explained. “Now I’m in this place where I’m trying to help people being on the other side saying, ‘there’s no shame to that, like you do need the help. It’s OK, you know, this isn’t going to be forever.'”

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To donate to the Hawaii Foodbank, click here.