The Hawaii Police Department’s Community Policing Unit was called to Costco on Friday, not for a crime but to collect nonperishable food for The Food Basket, Hawaii Island’s lone food bank.
The food drive was the brainchild of Officer Dwayne Sluss with the intention of filling a police cruiser with donated food. He approached Costco and The Food Basket with the idea, which was enthusiastically embraced. On Friday, a police cruiser parked at the entrance of the store overflowed with donations of cash, canned goods, rice and other non-perishable items, exceeding expectations. At the end of the four hour event 4,053 pounds of food and $1,381.83 were collected.
“We plan on doing more and hope the other districts on the island will pick up on the idea and expand it to help out other organizations,” he said. “The timing was perfect on a three-day weekend. There are people in our community still in need.”
Kristin Frost Albrecht, executive director of The Food Basket, said it was the first food drive since Kahikina’s Feed-A-Thon in February 2020.
“We are grateful for this event,” she said, adding the shelves at their warehouses were getting sparse.
The Food Basket has paused its Ohana Drops, which began in April 2020, because the COVID funds used to purchase food has dried up. Frost Albrecht said the nonprofit is assessing the situation but is still in need of food and donations to supply their partner food pantries and soup kitchens.
“Finally, we have a happy event,” she said. “People here are happy to donate.”
Frost Albrecht said Costco has been a constant supporter of The Food basket.
On Friday, management went so far as to put signs up around the store recommending items suitable for donation.
Costco’s merchandise manager, Ryan Mattern, said it took a group effort to make Friday’s drive a success, going above and beyond to feed needy families during these challenging times. He believes the Kona Costco is the only store in the chain to participate in this type of endeavor.
“The Food Basket comes here every morning to pick up baked goods and other items that are still usable but not sellable,” he said, so it was a natural fit to hold the event supporting Hawaii Island’s food bank.
Sluss said he would like to do future events to support the organization.
“We want to keep on doing it and see it grow,” he said.
To donate to The Food Basket, visit hawaii foodbasket.org.