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Kadena food pantry opens doors to military families

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Yosselin Campos
  • 18th Wing Public Affairs

The Kadena food pantry held a ribbon cutting ceremony signifying their grand opening to serve the local military community at Kadena Air Base, Feb. 8, 2023. Until now, no military affiliated food pantries were available on Okinawa. 

More than 25 percent of armed forces members reported experiencing food insecurity according to a 2018 Status of Forces Survey. Food insecurity threatens the readiness of troops and their families, because it impacts their performance, health and wellness and professional success.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines food insecurity as a lack of consistent access to enough food for every person in a household to live an active, healthy life. 

The pantry was the result of the efforts of Team Kadena’s Chief Master Sgt. Ronnie Woods, 18th Wing command chief, and members of the Airmen Committed to Excellence committee, who were looking for a way to ensure military members and families have resources available to them if they are experiencing food insecurity. 

“A little over a year ago, Chief Woods approached the ACE committee to instate a team dedicated to opening a food pantry on Kadena,” explained Senior Airman Armanda Jackson, Kadena ACE committee food pantry lead. “After overcoming various obstacles, we are excited to open our doors and help eliminate the stigma around asking for help.”

The food pantry is located in building 9918 near Chapel one. All active duty members and their dependents are able to use the pantry regardless of rank, and remain anonymous when visiting the pantry. Eligible patrons are able to stop by on Wednesdays from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. 

“The food pantry gives people an alternate route when they are struggling financially,” said Senior Airman Christina Pruch, Kadena ACE committee food pantry lead. “For some people it can be hard to go to their commands for help because they may not want people to know they’re dealing with a hardship. We want people to be able to use the food pantry without any guilt or embarrassment.”

The ACE committee partnered up with the Kadena Commissary to initially stock the pantry and created a way for commissary shoppers to purchase prepackaged bags of non-perishable items while doing their own grocery shopping. 

“Commissary employees package the ‘Kadena Care’ bags and then shoppers can purchase them for $9.99,” Pruch explained. “The support from the community has been phenomenal. It’s been in effect for the past six weeks and we have received over 3,000 items.”

For those who would like to get involved with the food pantry, there are several ways to donate items or their time. 

In addition to purchasing Kadena Care bags, donations can be dropped off during pantry operating hours and at the following locations: the Military and Family Readiness Center, the Kadena Thrift Store, the Schilling Center, the Risner and Habu Fitness Centers and at the McDaniel Center.

In an effort to keep the food pantry open as often as possible, the ACE committee is requesting additional volunteer support. To sign up for volunteer shifts, visit the Kadena Food Pantry on Facebook or contact them at