Hometown Heroes: The Food Basket holds 100th ‘food drop’ since April

  • Jaime Ferreire with Honua Ola hands a holiday dessert mix to a driver during an Ohana Food Drop with The Food Basket in Honokaa on Dec. 23. (Photos by Kelsey Walling/Tribune-Herald)

  • A driver talks with volunteers while driving through an Ohana Food Drop by The Hawaii Food Basket in Honokaa on Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020. Kelsey Walling/Tribune-Herald

  • National Guard member Whitney May holds bread and eggs for a car while volunteering at an Ohana Food Drop with The Food Basket in Honokaa on Dec. 23. The Food Basket served about 2,500 people.

  • A volunteer directs traffic during an Ohana Food Drop by the Hawaii Food Basket in Honokaa on Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020. This was The Food Basket's one hundredth drop this year. Kelsey Walling/Tribune-Herald

Editor’s note: Each Wednesday, West Hawaii Today is publishing a story about individuals, groups or organizations that have helped make life better for others in our community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Food Basket celebrated its 100th Ohana Food Drop Dec. 23 in Honokaa after serving nearly 175,000 people across Hawaii County since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The Food Basket has been doing the monthly food drops since April.

Volunteers have served the communities of Pahala, Naalehu, Ocean View, Milolii, Kailua-Kona, Waikoloa, Kohala, Waimea, Honokaa, Hilo, Keaau, Pahoa and Volcano.

The food drops have become vital to many people who have lost their jobs or have had a decrease in work hours due to the pandemic.

The largest drop was earlier this year in Kailua-Kona when The Food Basket served nearly 4,000 people, followed by Hilo with 3,800 people served.

As proven on Wednesday in Honokaa, The Food Basket and its volunteers can serve 2,500 people in about an hour and a half.

The 100th food drop was celebrated by giving people in line holiday treats from Honua Ola and a $50 restaurant gift card from Malama I‘A.

This was Honua Ola’s first time to be involved with an Ohana Food Drop

“All of us wanted to be involved and help people through the holidays,” said Honua Ola President Warren Lee. “The Food Basket’s goal is to end hunger, and as a part of the community, we want to help as much as we can.”

The Hawaii National Guard, Hawaii Police Department, county Parks and Recreation Department and Civil Defense have been provided volunteers for almost every food drop.

National Guard member Dickson Dechoso has volunteered at 10 different food drops since August.

“I have loved doing this and have enjoyed seeing people’s reactions when they come through the line,” Dechoso said. “I’m always doing something to try to make everyone happy, and it usually works.”

The Food Basket plans to continue the Ohana Food Drops for at least six more months, according to Executive Director Kristin Frost Albrecht.

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“We have incredible partners and donors, so I think we can keep this up for six more months,” Frost Albrecht said. “The people here take care of each other, and this program continues to show that.”

Know a Hometown Hero who should be highlighted next Wednesday? It can be anybody, from a youngster doing good for the community, to a professional helping with the COVID-19 pandemic, or even a kupuna! Please send your nominations to cjensen@westhawaiitoday.com with the subject: Hometown Heroes Nomination. Please include the hero’s name, contact information and what makes them a hero.

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