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Mayor approves county funds for Food Basket

Hawaii 24/7 Staff

Mayor Billy Kenoi has signed an emergency provision by the County Council that allocates $200,000 from the county Disaster and Emergency Preparedness Fund to the Hawaii Island Food Basket.

The County Auditor is kicking in another $75,000.

The Food Basket supplies numerous non-profit and community organizations that distribute food directly to needy residents.

According to the Council’s ordinance, the emergency is not area specific, but is county-wide.

* The Annunciation Food Pantry in Waimea has reported a 131 percent increase in total individuals served from 5,565 in 2008 to12,853 in 2011.

* The Kona Meet & Eat Soup Pantry has reported a 181 percent increase in meals served from 598 in 2010 to 1,680 in 2011.

* The St. Michael’ s Food Pantry in Kona has reported a 96 percent increase in meals served from 1,179 in 2010 to 2,309 in 2011.

* The Paradise Church of the Nazarene in Puna has reported an 11 percent increase in meals served from 438 in 2010 to 486 in 2011.

* The Living Waters Food Pantry in Hilo has reported a 57 percent increase in meals served from 124 in 2010 to 195 in 2011.

The Council also stated 16 percent of Big Island residents and 26.6 percent of children are unsure where their next meal might come from.

In a letter to the Council, Kenoi said he has ‘strong reservations’ as the emergency fund generally is reserved for restoration and revitalization following a catastrophic disaster such as an earthquake, tsunami or hurricane. However, he said he supported the Council’s wish to make this a one-time emergency grant.

Kenoi also asked the Council to ensure:

* Money will be spent directly on nutritious food for the truly needy, and not for salaries and wages, administrative costs, or other non -food uses.

* The disbursement of free food will be governed by strict procedures to ensure that the food is delivered to the neediest members of our community.

* There will be a complete and thorough accounting of how the County funds are spent by The Food Basket, Inc., including verifiable reports naming donors and recipients.

Bill No. 199

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