Hunger deprives our keiki of more than just food. It’s a simple fact: a child’s chance for a bright tomorrow starts with getting enough food to eat today. But in Hawaii, 1 in 6 keiki may not know where they will get their next meal. For the more than 53,000 keiki in Hawaii facing hunger, getting the energy they need to learn and grow can be a daily challenge.
Feeding keiki facing hunger is about more than simply providing food. It’s about providing nourishment, wellness and strength. That’s why Hawaii Foodbank has developed Food 4 Keiki – a group of programs that aims to provide nutritious food to improve our keiki's health and well-being.
These programs include our School Pantry program and Feeding Our Future, a summer lunch program.
The negative effects of hunger on academic performance has been well documented for years. Well-nourished, food-secure students have higher rates for cognitive activity, school attendance and academic achievements. Providing growing minds and bodies with well-balanced foundations naturally leads to higher education, qualifications, capacity, experience, and a greater learning potential.
To help, Hawaii Foodbank launched the Food 4 Keiki School Pantry program. The program serves as a critical food resource for young students, their siblings and their families. The School Pantries provide after-school snacks for young students, as well as additional family food bags to take home. Bags are filled with canned proteins, canned meals, dry goods, snacks and more.
In May 2018, the first-ever School Pantry was installed at Waimanalo Elementary and Intermediate School. Since then, we have opened School Pantries at Ka‘ewai Elementary School, Kamaile Academy, Kipapa Elementary School, Ma‘ili Elementary School, Pu‘uhale Elementary School, Wahiawa Elementary School and Wai‘anae Elementary School. We also launched two additional Keiki Pantries. While not located on Hawaii State Department of Education school grounds, these sites are still actively providing nourishment to hundreds more students on Oahu. The Kalihi YMCA Teen Center serves students from Farrington High School and four Kalihi middle schools, and Hoa ‘Aina O Makaha serves students at neighboring Makaha Elementary School.
This year, Hawaii Foodbank Kauai Branch is launching its own School Pantry program – having recently installed School Pantry equipment at ‘Ele‘ele Elementary School, Kilauea Elementary School, Koloa Elementary School, Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School and Kauai High School.
Hawaii Foodbank works with schools interested in hosting their own School Pantry and offers consultation regarding space and equipment. Hawaii Foodbank staff also works with the school’s existing nonprofit partners and helps build the community network to support the supply and management of this program.
For more information on starting a School Pantry in your area, contact:Marielle TerbioDirector of Community Engagement and Advocacy808firstname.lastname@example.org
Feeding Our Future is a summer lunch program for children at risk of hunger.
This summer, Feeding Our Future program served more than 9,200 prepared meals to hungry keiki. Hot lunches were distributed by our food partner agencies, including Catholic Charities Hawaii, Institute for Human Services, Princess Ka‘iulani Elementary, Mutual Housing Associaiton of Hawai‘i, and the Boys & Girls Club of Hawaii.
Marielle Terbio,Director of Community Engagement and Advocacy808email@example.com