The Food Basket, Hawaii Island’s food bank, has received a $100,000 donation from the Thirty Meter Telescope to meet the growing demand for food assistance on the island in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The funding will be used to support The Food Basket’s existing programs, including Ohana Drops, the Kupuna Pantry and Da Box Program.
TMT’s donation was made in memory of Barry Taniguchi of KTA Super Stores. He was a longtime TMT supporter who helped establish The Food Basket and was its chair at the time of his passing.
“We’re incredibly grateful to TMT for this generous gift that will have a significant and meaningful impact in the community,” said The Food Basket Executive Director Kristin Frost Albrecht. “Calls for food assistance have tripled since the COVID-19 crisis began, and TMT’s $100,000 donation will allow us to help anywhere between 2,000 to 20,000 people in a single month, depending on the program.”
The Food Basket has experienced a greater demand for food assistance than in other disasters, including recent volcanic eruptions and Hurricane Lane, with many first-time recipients looking for help due to being laid off or furloughed.
In addition, with Hawaii Island schools closed, many families who relied on free or subsidized school breakfasts and lunches to keep their keiki fed are facing greater need.
“We estimate we will serve 25,000 people in need on Hawaii Island in April, compared to 14,000 people in a typical month,” Albrecht said.