Hunger and the holidays were on the minds of Focus Maui Nui Youth Alliance members as they sorted hundreds of donated canned goods at the Maui Food Bank. With Christmas only a few days away, about 15 high school students volunteered their time to learn about hunger in the community and how to help those who have very little to eat during the holiday. “When I think of hunger, I think of a big city like New York. It’s hard to picture hunger on Maui – but the reality is, it’s here too,” said Kristen Gilchrist, a 15-year-old sophomore at Lahainaluna High School. Kristen shared her thoughts about hunger as she scanned through cans of nonperishable items such as fruit cocktail, soups and pork and beans. “It’s hard for me to imagine what it’s like to be wondering where your next meal will come from because I’ve never had that. I’m fortunate, I’ve always had food,” Kristen said.
At Maui Food Bank, approximately 10,000 pounds of food is distributed weekly to families in Maui County. Volunteer Coordinator Tasha Mohline accommodated the Youth Alliance at a time the warehouse would normally be closed. “I’d take any opportunity to teach and educate the youth about hunger and what we do for the community,” Mohline said.
The teenagers spent about three hours sorting out approximately 20 packed shopping carts of canned goods. The items will eventually be picked up by the 100-plus agencies that rely on the Food Bank to provide them with supplies to serve needy families. Sharmaine Pasalo, a 17-year-old Maui High School student, said she was surprised at the sight of heaping cans of food. “It shouldn’t be this way, people starving in our community, that’s really not good,” she said. Tyler DiGiulio, also 17 and a student at Maui High, said his first visit to the Maui Food Bank left him feeling grateful that he doesn’t have to worry about hunger in his own life. “I think it’s great that we’re helping people in need.”