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All Public School Students to Receive Free Meals During Upcoming School Year

July 15, 2021, 12:04 PM HST
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All Hawai‘i public school students will receive free breakfast and lunch meals for the entirety of the upcoming 2021-22 school year, officials announced Thursday, July 15.

The free meals for Hawai‘i Department of Education’s 257 public schools are made possible through a nationwide waiver from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). The waiver aims to minimize the possible spread of COVID-19 at schools across the country by eliminating meal payment transactions in school cafeterias, settings where students and cashiers may not be able to maintain proper social distancing.

“This has been a challenging time for our ʻohana, and I am proud to continue our safety net support through actions that improve food security for our students while providing economic relief for our families,” Superintendent Dr. Christina Kishimoto said. “The health and safety of our haumana continues to be our top priority, and as we fully reopen schools to in-person learning, this waiver will allow for a more efficient, contactless experience for students and our food service team.”

Parents and guardians who have not yet purchased meal credits for the upcoming school year via the EZMealApp mobile app or through their school do not need to take any action. Those who have already purchased meal credits in advance may choose to leave funds in the account for the following school year or contact their child’s school to request a refund.

Students will only receive meals at their school of enrollment. One meal per breakfast session and one per lunch session will be free of charge. Additional meals or meal items taken at the same session will be charged a normal rate.

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The DOE is encouraging parents and guardians to submit their Free and Reduced Price Lunch Meal Benefits applications online using the EZMealApp mobile app or at EZMealApp.com, where applicable, as information derived from the application directly impacts eligibility for other school programs, such as bus transportation and Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) food assistance.

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For more information, review the Frequently Asked Questions page or contact the School Food Services Branch at 808-784-5500. More information on the USDA waiver is available here.

Federal funds will reimburse state education departments for meal costs.

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