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men with food boxes
Wally Ishibashi (left) helps load boxes for emergency food deliveries.

Some families on Hawaiʻi Island are facing difficulties when it comes to putting food on the table during the COVID-19 pandemic. Transportation limitations also keep a number of ʻohana from getting to food distribution centers.

Office of Maunakea Management (OMKM) Senior Advisor Wally Ishibashi offered to kōkua. He asked Hawaiʻi Island’s food assistance program, The Food Basket, how OMKM, the University of Hawaiʻi Institute for Astronomy, Hilo, Maunakea Observatories Support Services and Maunakea Observatories (MKO), could help.

The move to feed those in need flourished and turned into a weekly production. As of April 27, volunteers meet every Monday to load food boxes into vans and shuttle them to various towns in East Hawaiʻi. So far, more than 200 boxes were delivered to homes in Hāmākua, Hilo, Pāhoa, Kalapana, Mountain View and Volcano.

“We are unable to solve all the challenges of COVID-19, but as we come together, united, we can make a huge difference,” said Ishibashi. “Let’s take care of community first. We always help each other. It’s the right thing to do.”

In order to comply with COVID-19 guidelines, the drop-offs are a contactless delivery service. Volunteers unload boxes at the home’s predetermined location, wave hello and drive to the next location.

“The Food Basket is doing such important work, meeting critical—and growing—needs for food security in our community. Our role here is to help them however we can,” said MKO volunteer Jessica Dempsey from the East Asian Observatory.

Each month, The Food Basket serves about 14,000 people facing financial hardship.

people with food boxes
Volunteers pick-up food boxes from the MKSS warehouse.
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