Industry Spotlight: “Service doesn’t stop at guests’ tables”



Michael Miller, Tiki’s Grill & Bar Director of Operations, HRA Executive Committee Board Director

Everyone feels that no one should go hungry. It’s a universal belief that is not politically charged or controversial. Toward that end, the Hawaii Foodbank is a wonderful organization and I just joined the Hawaii Foodbank board of directors.

For eight years running it has earned a four-star rating from Charity Navigator for accountability and transparency.

On any given day in Hawai‘i there are 287,000 people in need. Some of those are short-term cases, others are long-term. One in five people in Hawai‘i has gotten help from the foodbank.

For 35 years, the Hawaii Foodbank has served the community directly and through partner agencies in its network and this year, natural disasters have significantly increased the community need for food that must be met.

Food instability among families intensifies during disaster preparations, because if you don’t have money to buy food to start with, having an emergency stock of food just isn’t possible.


Season for giving

From hurricane season, we now head into the holidays when Thanksgiving and Christmas tend to cause people to feel more generous toward those in need. They get such unbelievable purchase rates that if you make a $10 donation, Hawaii Foodbank can distribute 25 meals.

We welcome assistance in all forms including food, monetary donations and volunteering of people’s time. Even if people don’t have the money to support a cause, maybe they can find the time, as time is a resource. In fact, sometimes, time can be more valuable than money.

It is widely known that Hawaii Foodbank accepts and distributes canned goods to help with basic nutrition, but this past fiscal year on Oahu and Kauai, it distributed more than 13.7 million pounds of food including 3.6 million pounds of fresh produce, which of course is much healthier.

Almost all wholesalers participate with Hawaii Foodbank in one way or another, but even the growers help. For example, if Aloun Farms has a surplus of watermelon or tomatoes, the markets are only going to take so much. The farms will take the surplus to Hawaii Foodbank, with its refrigeration units for storage. With all their partner agencies and volunteers, the foodbank can get the food out very quickly.


Beefing up capacity

Typically Hawaii Foodbank has a 10- to 12-day supply and we ideally would like to be at a 15-day supply.

The United States Postal Service conducts a massive, nationwide event to collect food for the country’s needy. It is amazing.

There are many ways to help, like with food drives that might be tied in with fun events, like free or discounted entry into an event, or a discounted item at a restaurant.

We’ve done that with our guests as well as food drives by our employees, we’ve had great success with that.

What’s really interesting is that only six percent of the total food that comes in, is from food drives. You’d think it was a lot more. The main thing is that food drives help to raise the visibility of the need and of ways to help.


Helping is easy

Some retailers make it really easy to make a donation at the register. You just swipe your card and there’s no need to deliver a bulky donation to the foodbank.

There’s also a yearly Hawaii Foodbank fundraising gala and dine-around event called Great Chefs Fight Hunger, and Tiki’s has participated in that.

The Hawaii Foodbank stages other special events year-round as fundraisers and this year there are VIP packages for a concert by the Stylistics. Purchase tickets to take your spouse, or give your GM or his family tickets to see the show (at Blaisdell Concert Hall Dec. 30).

The great thing about the Hawaii Restaurant Association is that we support so many different charitable organizations. We’re also looking at other ways that restaurants can help the Hawaii Foodbank. We don’t have all the answers, but if people are willing to support it and help, they can contact me or the foodbank to get more information.





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