East Hawaii News

DOE Plans Implementation of USDA Meal Pilot Program

July 23, 2015, 10:31 AM HST
* Updated July 23, 10:47 AM
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Students at Mountain View Elementary School will be among seven schools in the state to implement a United States Department of Agriculture pilot program, called the Community Eligibility Provision, through the Hawai’i State Department of Education.

Under the program, elementary school students at select schools will receive free meal service. The program allows a school district, a group of schools, or a single school to receive the free meals, regardless of whether or not the individual students qualify for free or reduced lunch

“One major factor in the future of the program is the high cost of a meal in Hawai’i compared [to] the much lower rates around the country,” Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi said. “We’re grateful for this opportunity to participate in this pilot that could undoubtedly benefit families in need.”

Schools participating in the CEP program are required to have at least 40 percent of students in their school eligible for free or reduced meal service through the National School Lunch Program.

According to the Hawai’i State Department of Education, each meal costs $5.50 to get to a student, including food costs, labor, utilities, and other necessary procedures. Of the $5.50, the USDA reimburses the state $3.85 for students who qualify for a free meal and $0.40 for those paying for a meal. Elementary students are charged $2.50 for school meals.

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In addition to Mountain View Elementary, Kaunakakai Elementary School, Kilohana Elementary School, Maunaloa Elementary School, Molokai Middle School, Molokai High School, and Linapuni Elementary School have all also been chosen by the DOE to participate in the pilot CEP program.

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“The schools were chosen so that the Department can analyze how families and students in a single island community, such as Molokai, respond to the program while also giving officials the chance to study the impact of individual schools in separate and distinct districts on Oahu and Hawai’i Island,” Office of School Facilities and Support Services Assistant Superintendent Dann Carlson said.

As part of the program, all students at the participating school would qualify for $3.85 reimbursement, regardless of their qualification. The seven pilot schools will no longer collect meal money. Instead, families will be required to provide information for data collection.

To learn more about the CEP program, visit the DOE’s CEP website.

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Schools that are not attending a school part of the CEP pilot program can still apply for free and reduced-price meal benefits online.

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