Kakaako food pantry loses lease, faces challenge to find new location

Kakaako’s popularity as a area of development has its casualties. In less than two weeks, a non-profit that has helped feed Honolulu’s low-income residents and homeless for years, has to close its doors.

Feeding Hawaii Together has operated out of a large space on Keawe Street for 15 years, but it’s now been sold. So while it has to move out of its current location, finding a new one where they can set up a food pantry has been challenging.

The organization wants to continue distributing food, which it provides for free to qualified applicants. But in the meantime, it’s going to need help fast.

The founders say they need a space somewhere between Moiliili and Iwilei, but the rental prices they’re seeing are about $10,000 a month, which is way out of their budget. Right now, they’re paying approximately $5,000 a month.

Co-founder and executive director Charlie Lorenz says Feeding Hawaii Together helps between 1,000-1,500 people a week.

“We need at least 6,000 square feet,” he said. “I think I can fit a food pantry with a walk-in refrigerator, walk-in freezer, pallet shelves and all our equipment that we need to run the place.”

Assistant director Diana Lorenz says they need to find a place quick so they can continue to help people in need. “We did hand out about 3 million pounds of food last year. So far in 2016, we believe it will be even more.”

Feeding Hawaii Together will have to stop operations on Dec. 1 and will give away what they have on hand if they don’t have a new space by then, but they did say they are going to continue to search so they can eventually open up again.

Charlie Lorenz said they are going to continue to search for a place so they can eventually open up again.

“This is where it’s really needed, in Kakaako. People say they are doing affordable housing here — nah-ah, it’s not affordable.”

State Representative Marcus Oshiro stopped by the facility Saturday and offered a temporarily vacant warehouse in Wahiawa to store equipment and food while the founders search for a new location.

To help the food pantry, or to make a donation, visit Feeding Hawaii Together’s website by clicking here.

We’ll keep you posted on any developments.

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