HONOLULU (KHON2) — As the pandemic continues, so does the need for food distribution. Some organizations are turning food that could have been discarded into meals for those that need it.

When the pandemic hit, business dropped drastically leaving restaurants and hotels to throw out tons of leftover food.

Food rescue organization Aloha Harvest jumped in to redistribute it to the community.

“Before COVID We were throwing away 237,000 tons of good food every year so it’s spiked during COVID. It’s still at higher levels than it was prior to the pandemic,” said Leslie Pyo with Aloha Harvest.

The pandemic also led to many losing their jobs, eventually seeking help finding their next meals.

“COVID really highlighted, and worsened existing inequalities in our community, food access being one of the primary ones,” said Pyo.

Pyo said they had to work harder to bring in food. So, they linked up with over 100 organizations to do more food rescues, and even had to start purchasing food to keep up with demand.

“So we did 2.7 million pounds of rescued food but then our total last year, including purchased was over 4 million pounds of food distributed across Oahu,” said Pyo.

One of the organizations they distribute to is Help Is On The Way, which has seen a rise in weekly food distributions.

“When we started, we were getting around 250 people. And we’ve been doing it every week since then. Yesterday, was our high every week seems to be a high. Last week was over 600 households,” said Gregory Kim, Help Is On The Way co-founder.

Pyo said they and other organizations are continuing to ramp up but need help.

“About 26% of our local food supply goes to waste every single year. So that comes out to 237,000 tons of good food that’s being thrown away instead of giving out into our communities. At the same time, one in five people rely on food pantries for making it for assistance,” said Pyo.

Kim said it is likely that people will continue to need food distributions until the economy returns to the way it was, but he said that is unlikely.

“With respect to the food security, food security is gonna be around for a while, because the jobs aren’t going to come back on 100%,” said Kim.