- a 2005-2006
Advance Special -®
Visit our primary supplier,
the Hawai'i Foodbank.
Sources of our inspiration:
the good Samaritan - Luke 10:25-37,
dinner guests - Luke 14:12-14,
the new commandment - John 15:12-13ORIGIN About 1980, the First United Methodist Church's "Church and Society" work area (Rev. Carmen Pak, Lissi Chadwick and Ann Drake) created a volunteer staff for our then very small "Foodbank," for people seriously in need and coming to our church for help. We started with a little closet, no budget and just the three of us. In 1997, three years after Lissi went on the Women's Walk to Emmaus, the "onslaught" as she calls it, began. Over the years the Foodbank had gradually expanded, replacing unused or poorly used storage space, until it was serving the needs of about 60-70 individuals and families a month.In 1997 that number jumped to 379 a month, mostly because of the change in foodstamp laws. Could we meet the challenge? Would we have enough space, volunteers, and food to sustain those numbers on a regular basis?
1. Guests per Month, 1996-June, 2005
(click on chart to enlarge)
On the Web
Honolulu Advertiser on our Foodbank on homelessness in Hawaii on the post 9/11 emergency Hawaii Foodbank drive our congregation's newest H-5 program
HOW MANY ARE HELPED? To date this year, we have served slightly less than 500 Foodbank guests per month (ranging from 245 in February to 549 in June)--almost a ten-fold increase since changes were put into effect in Federal and State welfare regulations in early 1997 (chart 1). Of these about 32% were children. With the exception of January, more than half of the adults have been first-timers (see chart 2). This change since January 2004reflects the fact that in our policy of assisting someone no more than once a month was changed to no more than once every three months. The effect of the policy change was very noticeable (see chart 3), and was necessitated by the Hawaii Foodbank receiving less than half of what it had in previous years from the Federal Government for grants-in-aid.
WHO ARE THEY? Our impression is that most frequently our guests are unemployed or unemployable (temporarily or permanently disabled with physical or mental illnesses), single parents, people recently out of prison or a drug rehabilitation program, recent immigrants who do not speak English well if at all (for example, from the Marshall Islands), or people on minimum wage or part-time work who just run out of money for food after paying their rent and other recurring expenses. Many are homeless or marginally homeless.
WHO HELPS US? Our Foodbank could not possibly provide food for so many guests on a regular basis without the widespread support and encouragement of a large community of donors and volunteers. Our church increased the space available to the Foodbank from a small closet to about 1,500 sq. ft. and provides the electricity and maintenance for half a dozen refrigerators and freezers, as well as air conditioning. From a 1-3 person operation, it grew to on average about 15-25 volunteers/week, half of whom are from our congregation, and half from the community, including students from McKinley High School and churches as far as Ewa Beach. Private donations have been substantial as well as grants from our California-Pacific Conference. But the largest and most consistent single contributor has been the Hawaii Foodbank itself, which has provided donated food, as well as grants-in-aid through Federal and other funds to defray their "shared maintenance cost" for the facility. For several years now, we also have had and continue to receive generous dropoffs of food donated through Aloha Harvest, the Kaiser Pensacola Clinic, the International Association of Administrative Professionals (Hawaii Chapter), private donors, our Vacation Bible School, and regular financial donations from the Wesley United Methodist Church. This year, the Hawaii District of the United Methodist Church nominated us and our annual California-Pacific Conference approved us as an "advance special" program; this allows us to solicit donations from the United Methodist Church nationwide. Also at the Conference, our church's H-5 ministry was renewed as as an "advance special" as well!
WHAT WE PROVIDE We provide a large bag of groceries per adult guest with enough food to last three or more days, including canned goods (corn, peas or green beans, pork and beans, soup, canned meat, dry pasta/rice, bread, butter or margarine and cheese when available, frozen meat and/or cold-cuts, fresh vegetables and fruit when available, and other items, weighing about 15 lbs. For families with children, we add appropriate and proprotionately more food according to the number and ages of children and other dependents.
Our assistance goes beyond a standard bag of groceries. We often serve as a gateway to other forms of assistance. We refer individuals and families to other agencies such as the Samaritan Counseling Center, Goodwill Industries of Hawaii, the Salvation Army and other food pantries and helping organizations. If they are in need of warm meals or sandwiches, we refer them to our H-5 program which prepares food (usually obtained from the Hawaii Foodbank as well) in our church kitchen and distributed by homeless volunteers in a donated van. We invite them to our church and try to make them feel welcome and valued, and refer them to our ministers if they express a spiritual need.
ORGANIZATION This adds up to about one ton of food being given away a week, on average. To do this, we have 2-3 volunteers that help haul the food twice a week from the Hawaii Foodbank--hauling mostly canned goods, dry foods, frozen meat or fish, and some fresh produce. Then about 15 others in shifts of 2-4 per workday during our Foodbank hours sort, repack, stack, and rotate inventory, and set up starter or basic bags. During the week, as needed and if available, frozen and refrigerated food and fresh produce are added to the starter bags as well as other items.
OUR HOURS We are open every work day for two hours (Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, 2:00-4:00 p.m, and Tuesday and Friday, 9:30-11:30 a.m). Each day, a different volunteer staffs the reception area, where they deal one-on-one with from 6 up to 36 guests (single and families) depending on the time of the month. The receptionist is backed up by two or more of the other volunteers who do the bagging for families and other chores. Periodically, there are many people still waiting at closing time. We stay to help them after closing time but usually ask people who come after closing time to come the next day. To take care of those who came by closing time, sometimes this means staying an additional hour or more.
Would you like to help?
DONATIONS: SHOPPING HELP Would you like to help us shop for special items that are periodically not available in sufficient quantity at the Hawai'i Foodbank? For what is currently in short supply, call Lissi at church (522-9555) or email her at Lissi@hawaii.rr.com.
WOULD YOU VOLUNTEER? We are mostly in need of volunteers to be trained to help our Foodbank guests in the reception room, prepare bags in the work area, and do other chores to make sure people are helped without a long wait. The need is greatest in the summertime when our guest numbers peak (see chart 2) and our regular volunteers go on vacation. Do you see this as a mission for you, to help provide groceries to adults and families who presently do not have the means to get enough food for themselves? If you would like to join this effort personally, or if you know someone in need, or if you would like more information, please email Lissi (our Foodbank coordinator) at Lissi@hawaii.rr.com or call her at the First United Methodist Church office, (808) 522-9555, during Foodbank hours, or at home, 946-0580. We need people willing to help once a week for about 3 hours, or at least twice a month. We are also looking for people who would be willing to help us shop at the Hawaii Foodbank, who have a truck, van, or car, and who would commit to helping us at least once a month or more.
With whom would you be working? Recognize a name? All these people have donated their time this year.Work area: Chester, Gerry, Jan, Jan P., Jeff, Johann, Joyce, Lynda, Lissi, Pat, and Peni.
Reception area: Betsy, Carol, Chris, Cleon, Jan, Lissi, and Eleanor
Statistical support: Betsy (all the charts and spreadsheet work)
Hawaii Foodbank Shoppers/Haulers: Lissi with her VW, Ray with a pickup, Utu with a big truck and his H-5 team for the really heavy stuff, and Dick helping Lissi to shop, lift stuff and play the harmonica to raise our spirits
Full time volunteer coordinator: Lissi
Webpage maintainer and all-purpose emergency backup: Dick (Lissi's hubby)
Mahalo! A big thank you! to the following who helped out in the last few years:
Arco, Becky, Belinda, Bill, Carolyn, Conrad, David, Deb, Eddy, Jud, Lindsey, Lori, Michael, and Paris.
We very much appreciated your contributions of time, mind, body and soul to this work.
All but two of these volunteers came from the community, not as members of our church. About half came to us originally as guests of our Foodbank. Three came as volunteers from McKinley High School a few blocks away.
Stay tuned for more developments! Come visit us.