Food Basket receives new vehicle

  • Representatives from The Food Basket and Walmart Foundation’s Hawaii State Giving Council gather in front of the food bank’s new refrigerated truck. (Courtesy photo/Special to West Hawaii Today)

HILO — More Hawaii Island residents are struggling with hunger. The Food Basket, Hawaii County’s food bank, reports a 13.7 percent increase of residents in need of emergency food this year.

Thanks to a recent grant, the perishable food it transports will be at a much lower risk of spoiling.

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Hunger becomes especially critical at month’s end in Hawaii County when “families need to make the difficult choice of whether to pay their rent, utilities and health care costs — or purchase food,” a Food Basket statement says.

Kristin Frost Albrecht, interim Food Basket executive director, said the food bank serves 13,649 people each month.

“It’s an enormous number of people. It’s bigger than Kona,” Albrecht said, referring to Kailua-Kona.

The Food Basket recently received a needed boost to help serve those people.

An $87,433 grant from the Walmart Foundation’s Hawaii State Giving Council paid for a new, refrigerated truck for the Food Basket to transport foods that need refrigeration, such as dairy products, produce, eggs and frozen goods.

“It’s really exciting because we’ve never had a new box truck before,” Albrecht said.

The truck will keep food at a safe temperature while it is transported to distribution sites, she said. Until now, Food Basket vehicles had been unreliable.

Albrecht said elderly residents and working families are among those most in need. The truck, she said, will provide new, safe emergency-response capability.

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Tiffany Wilson, spokeswoman for Walmart and the Walmart Foundation, said the company is committed to giving back locally and chose the Food Basket because Walmart wants to help groups that show a “measurable impact and take on important issues in the community — and hunger is one of Walmart’s most important causes.”

Email Jeff Hansel at jhansel@hawaiitribune-herald.com.