During the unprecedented economic crisis created by the coronavirus pandemic, the Hawaii Foodbank ― alongside the Hawaii Farm Bureau ― is developing a new initiative to help feed Hawaii’s hungry.

The food bank is committing to purchase $200,000 of local agricultural products to bolster its food assistance programs, helping to put food on the tables of those most in need while also allowing local farmers and ranchers to continue growing local food products.

The partnership was aided, in large part, to multiple foundations that have stepped up to help. Participating groups include the Harold K.L. Castle Foundation, the Hawaii Community Foundation, Ulupono Initiative, and the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, among others.

On Tuesday, the Hawaii Foodbank’s Mapunapuna location received the first shipment of local produce, featuring 5,000 pounds of product. The shipment included bok choy, squash and long beans from Oahu and papayas and sweet potatoes from Hawaii Island.

“It’s a very exciting day,” said Hawaii Foodbank president and chief executive Ron Mizutani. “We are so grateful for Hawaii Farms Bureau stepping up and really understanding what we are trying to accomplish here, and we need to be apart of the solution for resiliency.”

Through its partnership with the Hawaii Farm Bureau, the Hawaii Foodbank will purchase local agricultural products to be distributed through its Ohana Produce Plus and Senior Food Box programs.

The bureau is doing its part by helping to connect the food bank with individual farmers. Brian Miyamoto is the group’s executive director.

“5,000 pounds that we were not sure would have been sold,” said Miyamoto. “This is 5,000 pounds for the local farmers and ranchers to continue farming.”

The deliveries will arrive on Tuesdays at the Hawaii Foodbank, and the produce will vary from what farmers have available.

Viewers can click here about more information on mass drop off and pickup locations to help serve those in need.

Kainoa Carlson/ Hawaii News Now