11,000 pounds of food distributed at UH

More than 200 people received nutritional assistance
Hundreds of students lined up for a Food Drop on Valentines Day 2024.
Hundreds of students lined up for a Food Drop on Valentine’s Day 2024.
Shelby Mattos

Hundreds of UH Mānoa students and community members attended a “Food Drop” this week at the Campus Center Courtyard.

Even though the food distribution didn’t start until noon on Wednesday, students began lining up much earlier.

“We’re here about two hours early,” Ellie Campbell, an exchange student through the National Student Exchange Program at UH Mānoa, said at the time. “And there’s already a line for it.”

More than 11,000 pounds of food was provided by organizations such as Food Vault Hawaii, Hawaii Health and Harm Reduction Center and the Hawaii Foodbank. The on-site operations were managed by UH”s Office of Student Life and Development, under the direction of Bonnyjean Manini, the director of Student Involvement and Leadership Development.

“I’m here for myself and for my family because food here is so expensive,” said Diane Huyhn, a sophomore biology major at UH Mānoa. “Ever since the pandemic, especially, my parents have struggled. My dad would do Costco runs and have to spend $200 to $300 dollars each time on food and produce. Now, we can divert that money saved toward other things my family needs.”

Fruits, vegetables, milk, canned goods and snacks were among the items available. Participants were allowed to use boxes or bags, and each person was given about five minutes to gather their food before being asked to make room for the next person.

“I mostly see the need for food supplementation outside of campus,” said Jason Gonzalez, a bible study leader, who recently moved to Hawaii from California. “I didn’t know that they were doing this kind of thing (at UH), but I think it’s good.”

People in line also offered the following comments:

  • “Today is very important for us. We get almost a half of our monthly grocery rations,” said Bhargav Kaushik, who is attending UH Mānoa in pursuit of his doctorate in architecture. “And that is feeding my family as well. Me, my wife and our child.”
  • “It’s just a really convenient program,” said Mike Johnson, a student in the William S. Richardson School of Law. “And it helps a lot because there’s no limit. Just as much as you can carry,”
  • “Unfortunately, I don’t have a job right now,” said Jasmine Neri, an Animal Science major at UH Mānoa. “So I am trying to get any type of help I can get.”
  • “In Hawaii groceries are pretty expensive,” said Ioko Sakura, an international student from Japan. “I really rely on this.”
  • “Food is the thing that gets sacrificed,” said senior Lauren Grigat, an international student studying molecular and cell biology at UH Mānoa, “because I need to pay for rent.”
  • “Education is more than just going to class,” said Aidan Demcher, a junior political science major at UH Mānoa. “It needs to be an environment where you can feel encouraged and successful. How can you think about class if you don’t know where your next meal is coming from?”

The next UH food drop will be March 13 at Campus Center. For more information, visit the UH Food Vault website.

Aishwarya Behl, Tori DeJournett, Flynn Hamlin, Alysha Manalo-Canoy, Kekona Naipo-Arsiga, Hi‘ilawe Neves, Mackenzie Olivo, Lucia Peralta and Summer Steinsrud contributed to this report. 


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