Shidler alumnus draws from past experiences to lead Hawaii Foodbank through hard times
By Dani Douglass
When Malcolm Inamine, BBA ‘94, EMBA ‘00, reflects on his experiences as a student at the Shidler College of Business, he recalls a time of long hours and copious amounts of work that required steadfast determination. He says he was stretched to physical and mental limits but that the experience helped him to learn to persevere through tough situations.
Now as the vice president and chief operations officer of the Hawaii Foodbank, Inamine has the opportunity to draw on his education as he leads his team through the most difficult time in the organization’s history. Last month, the food bank saw an 85% increase in food distributed on O‘ahu as compared to last April.
“Hawaii Foodbank is facing the unprecedented challenge of providing food for people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic while continuing to meet the nutritional needs of one in eight Hawai‘i residents who are already struggling with hunger,” Inamine said.
In this time of dire need, the most impactful thing people can do is make a monetary donation to the Hawaii Foodbank to help with the large scale community food distributions in the wake of COVID-19. A contribution of just $10 can provide food for 25 meals through the organization’s partnership with Feeding America, which is the nationwide network of food banks.
“While the pandemic has prompted changes on how we all live daily, it has also highlighted Hawai‘i’s warmth and aloha,” Inamine says. “Our community inspires us to #RiseResiliency.”
Since Hawai‘i’s stay at home order went into effect on March 25, the demand for food assistance has increased by more than 60 percent. April’s distribution of food registered at 1,843,336 pounds (compared to 994,016 in April 2019). The organization’s financial situation has also drastically changed and the food bank has spent more than $715,000 on emergency food and supplies.
In order to keep up with the staggering demand for food as residents face unemployment and other financial distress, the Hawaii Foodbank purchased $600,000 of food in April and current projections show $2 million being spent in May.
Under Inamine’s leadership, the Hawaii Foodbank has made some pivots to its operations and information technology to respond to the current demand. Increased capacity and innovative solutions are paramount to maintaining that flow of food to people in need.
“To help contribute to long-term food sustainability, we have implemented an enterprise resource program and warehouse management system along with improved technology resources to allow staff to expedite partner agency delivery,” he said. “Staff has more inventory information in real-time allowing a better ordering experience for the agencies.”
Inamine says that although this is a challenging time, opportunities still exist for the Hawaii Foodbank and other businesses throughout the state.
“This pandemic provides a time to evaluate how efficient your operations and people are with compassion and understanding,” he says. “Finding ways to maximize efficiency and finding employees who are truly committed to the company’s mission will keep the organization sustainable. At Hawaii Foodbank, we are fortunate to have found so many loyal employees who are dedicated to serving the community and the great people of Hawai‘i.”
The time he spent at Shidler and his continued involvement as an alumnus serving on advisory boards and actively supporting the college has had an impact on Inamine’s career and he says that he is grateful and appreciative of those experiences.
“I’ve been able to leverage relationships and networks established in the program to help my career, the Hawaii Foodbank and previous employers,” he says. “The true impact of a great education is reflected through an individual’s performance and ability to create value in their position for their employer. I know that my education has provided opportunities to help the Hawaii Foodbank to become operationally efficient and return savings to the employees and community.”