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UH President David Lassner, Lt. Gov. Sylvia Luke and UH baseball Head Coach Rich Hill

The 24th Annual State Employees’ Food Drive launched March 10 at a University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Rainbow Warrior baseball game, led by Lt. Gov. and UH Mānoa alumna Sylvia Luke, in partnership with the Hawaiʻi Foodbank, UH, UH Athletics and the Rainbow Warrior baseball team. The food drive, co-chaired by Luke and Second Gentleman and UH Mānoa alumnus Michael Luke, will run from March 10 to May 19, accepting monetary and food donations to reduce food insecurity across Hawaiʻi.

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The State Employees’ Food Drive was first launched in 1999 and is held annually for state employees to support eliminating food insecurity in Hawaiʻi’s communities. Over two decades of championing the annual food drive, state employees have contributed more than $3 million and 1.7 million pounds of food to the Hawaiʻi Foodbank.

The goal for this year’s food drive is to raise $150,000 and 70,000 pounds of food. Luke is honored to lead this year’s food drive and support the partnership between state employees and the Hawaiʻi Foodbank.

“As the Foodbank’s largest coalition, state employees have a tremendous opportunity to raise funds and reach out to their networks so we can feed Hawaiʻi’s families,” Luke said. “Food insecurity is a public health issue, and it will take all of us working together to make an impact for our communities.”

As one of the state’s largest entities, UH is a significant contributor to the food drive, raising $70,000 in 2022. UH President David Lassner is a strong proponent of the food drive and sees the impacts of food insecurity in the UH community.

“We administered a national survey to our students across all 10 campuses across the islands and we found some 38% of our students experienced food insecurity in the last 30 days, and that’s why we’re so proud to participate in the food drive each and every year,” Lassner said. “I’m really happy that we could kick-off the drive here today at Rainbow Warrior baseball, the University of Hawaiʻi is consistently one of the strongest contributors to the State’s Food Drive each and every year. This is a great way to get our students and our fans in understanding the importance of food security for everyone in Hawaiʻi.”

UH Athletics and the Rainbow Warrior baseball team will continue to support the food drive as partners. Head Baseball Coach Rich Hill said, “To have an opportunity to represent Hawaiʻi Foodbank and this great cause, it gives me chicken skin; and that’s what it’s really about, in higher education, to make an impact on these young people. And we couldn’t be prouder to host this event tonight.”

This year, approximately 1 in 6 Hawaiʻi residents will experience food insecurity, including 1 in 4 children. While this issue impacts people of all ages, keiki are most affected with Hawaiʻi currently holding the second highest rate of child food insecurity throughout the nation.

“It is more critical than ever; there is a hunger cliff coming,” said Laura Kay Rand, UH Mānoa alumna and vice president and chief impact officer of the Hawaiʻi Foodbank, which is Hawaiʻi’s leading hunger-relief organization. “The last portion of the emergency [Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program] benefit is being mailed out next week, but the need has not gone down. We are still serving 1 in 6 people who are facing hunger, food insecurity. We just need to stand in the gap.”

Anyone can support the Hawaiʻi Foodbank and the State Employees’ Food Drive. To make a contribution or learn more, visit this website.

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