HONOLULU — One of Oahu’s largest pantries could soon shut down its operations in Kakaako if it doesn’t find somewhere more affordable to provide homeless and low-income residents with free meals.

Gill Berge, who sits on Feeding Hawaii Together’s board of directors, said the nonprofit can no longer afford the rent at the 19,000-square-foot location. The landlord wants the organization out of the building by Dec. 1, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported (http://bit.ly/2bUywGb).

The nonprofit is now looking for a smaller space or something that Berger says is “close to a freebie.”

“We need an angel landlord of some type,” Berger said. “We can’t afford market-rate rent.”

Feeding Hawaii Together has been serving those in need in Kakaako for nearly two decades. It’s different from other food pantries, in that it allows clients to fill shopping carts with items they want instead of supplying them with prepackaged bags of food.

The Hawaii Foodbank supplies the organization with the proteins, canned goods and fresh produce it distributes.

Pua and Paiea Kamahoahoa said they like “the sense of dignity” they feel while picking out food at Feeding Hawaii Together. The couple has two sons, ages 9 and 15, and have been going to the pantry for six years.

“They take you shopping like it’s a store, and there’s no limit,” Pua Kamahoahoa said. “When you’re hit with life’s struggles, where do you go? You go to the pantry.”

Charlie Lorenz, who founded Feeding Hawaii Together with his wife, Diana, said the Kakaako location sees anywhere from 300 to 400 clients on a typical day. About 10 percent of the group’s clients are homeless, while the other 90 percent are simply “desperate for food,” he said.

Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com

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