A journaling of participation in food system response efforts

Hunter Heaivilin

March 2020

Reached out to HI-EMA to, naively, ask who the state point of contact for emergency food response is as an overwhelming amount of private/third sector food response was underway.

The response given was that things were functioning as they should be..

The supply chain is in tact [sic] and food bank and other groups are functioning as they are supposed to

My intent was to work to connect some volume of the community response work into the incident command system of the county and/or state. Having had a little background familiarity with the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and the Incident Command System (ICS) I was hoping to enable community work to socket into government response.

Having hit a wall I reached out to an old grad school peer who heads up the local VOAD (Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters). From her I learned that the Salvation Army (SA) holds the Memorandum of Understanding with the State of Hawaii for emergency feeding and was furnished with contact info for the Director.

After some back and forth, I learned that SA's planning for food response derived from a FEMA statistic advising that 20% of a population may need food assistance in a disaster. SA shared their maths approach, taking the state population as ~1.4M and factoring that. by 0.2, or in case or serious calamity factoring by 0.40.

Put delicately, I was struck by the realization that the state designated response entity had no spatial sense of vulnerability or projections of potential need based on population data. SA was, however, interested in having such information to aid their work, so I was enlisted in the Army, essentially said I could say I was pursuing this interest on their behalf. So I started shopping the idea around, similar to how I'd functioned in previous disasters, seeking the greatest utility for my time and application of my knowledge base.

In short order it became apparent that a risk model alone would be of marginal utility, comparing vulnerability (read: projected food insecurity) against distribution efforts would be an ideal approach to scope a sense of the ratio of need met to extant food insecurity.