In 1982, John White's vision of a local food bank was one step closer to reality when the Good Samaritan Law governing food donations passed the State Legislature. The law encouraged the donation of unmarketable products by protecting donors from liability except in cases of gross negligence or wanton acts. To our knowledge, no person has ever become ill from donated food bank products.
In May of 1983 John, along with a single driver, opened a small warehouse on Sand Island that became the Hawaii Foodbank. All the equipment used was donated by local companies and included two refrigerated containers, a flatbed truck and a three-ton forklift. By the end of the first year of operation in March 1984, 380,000 pounds of food had been distributed through 75 member agencies.
The Hawaii Foodbank has grown immensely since then and is now distributing over 14 million pounds per year in Oahu and Kauai combined, including 3 million pounds of produce. We serve nearly 200 charitable agencies representing 289 feeding programs across Oahu. Member agencies include Hawaii's food pantries, feeding programs for children and the elderly, homeless and abuse shelters, rehabilitation centers and soup kitchens.
These charitable agencies provide food assistance to the low income, elderly, children, homeless, unemployed/ underemployed and people in need of emergency assistance. The Hawaii Foodbank also ships resources out to neighbor island food banks on Hawaii, Maui and Kauai.
The Ohana Produce Program represents a special effort by the Hawaii Foodbank to distribute fresh fruits and vegetables to the hunger. Since 1997, our Ohana Produce trucks have delivered produce to sites in Nanakuli, Waianae, and Waialua. More sites have been added in Ewa Beach, Waimanalo, and Kalihi. The Ohana Produce Program distributed 2.6 million pounds of produce last year to provide a healthier, balanced diet to the hungry.
On September 11, 1992 Hurricane Iniki hit the island of Kauai with devastating force. The Hawaii Foodbank responded immediately by sending 1.5 million pounds of food to relief sites across Kauai. Our contributions to the Iniki relief effort won the Foodbank statewide recognition as an important disaster response organization.
The Hawaii Foodbank is a certified member of Feeding America, the national food bank network. Certification means that our operations and facilities meet national standards for sanitation, food handling, health and safety practices, and inventory management.
In December 1996, Hawaii Business Magazine rated the Hawaii Foodbank as Hawaii's number one charity, with 95% of all donations going to support programs to feed the hungry.
The Hawaii Foodbank is sustained by a combination of private donations, fundraising events, grants and contributions from the Aloha United Way and Combined Federal Campaigns.