Tears shed as Kakaako food pantry closes after 15 years

Thursday was the last official day for Feeding Hawaii Together, a food pantry that has been helping people in Kakaako for 15 years.

The non-profit organization has been trying to find a new location that’s at least 6,000 square feet since learning its current building on Keawe Street was sold.

But the search so far has been unsuccessful with rents nearly double what it pays now.

It’s been a difficult and emotional day, especially for people who rely on Feeding Hawaii Together to feed their families. On average, about a thousand people a week visit the facility to “shop” for free perishable and non-perishable food.

Now, many are wondering where they will go next.

“It’s sad because it’s like, I don’t know any other place that gives so much food, especially around the holidays. It’s really hard,” said Punchbowl resident Corilynn Wallace.

“It helps for a lot of reasons,” said Kalihi resident Nani Kekei. “It helps supplement a lot of tables, a lot of things that impact just a group of people in a little neighborhood. They all share, and I come to do it for my kapuna.”

“Food is going to go into landfills. It’s not going to be good. It’s a sad day,” said Charlie Lorenz with Feeding Hawaii Together.

“While we try to get other agencies around the area to pick up what will be lost here, we are going to have slippage,” said Gerald Shintaku, Hawaii Food Bank president and CEO. “There is no way that anybody can pick up just the amount of sheer volume.”

“They have been so great here. It’s going to be hard to know what to expect,” said Wallace. “I hope they find someplace else soon.”

On Friday, 6-8 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m.-noon, there will be a Christmas store with toys and food for clients, and after that, Feeding Hawaii Together will pack everything up, including shelves and the refrigerator and freezer, and move it into storage.

The non-profit says it will continue to look for a new place.

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