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Hawaii DOE expanding free meals program to include 30 schools

  • JAMM AQUINO / 2011

    Department of Education Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “We are pleased to be able to expand this program to more schools and include nearly every island with free meals,” schools Superintendent Matayoshi said in a statement.

An estimated 17,000 public school students would be eligible to receive free meals at their schools regardless of their family’s ability to pay, under plans announced today by the state Department of Education to expand a pilot program that launched last fall.

The number of participating schools will increase fourfold to 30 schools on six islands from seven pilot schools on three islands this year.

By providing free meals for entire schools, the program aims to increase access to nutritious school meals by helping remove the stigma for low-income children to participate.

The meals are provided through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Eligibility Program, which allows schools serving high-poverty areas to participate in the National School Lunch Program without having to collect and process individual meal applications. Eligibility is instead determined by relying on information from other programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps, and the Temporary Assistance Program for Needy Families, or welfare.

To qualify for the free-meal program, at least 40 percent of a school’s students must be eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, a key indicator of poverty. Under federal income guidelines for Hawaii, a family of four cannot earn more than $51,597 to qualify for the reduced rate, while a family of four earning $36,257 or less qualifies for free meals.

“We are pleased to be able to expand this program to more schools and include nearly every island with free meals,” schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi said in a statement. “We’ve heard from parents in this year’s pilot project who say the program was a tremendous help for their families.”

The 23 additional schools being added to the program in 2016-17 are:


  • Leihoku Elementary
  • Maili Elementary
  • Makaha Elementary
  • Nanaikapono Elementary
  • Nanakuli Elementary
  • Nanakuli High & Intermediate
  • Olomana School
  • Pope Elementary
  • Waianae Elementary
  • Waianae High
  • Waianae Middle
  • Waimanalo Elementary & Intermediate

Hawaii island:

  • Kau High & Pahala Elementary
  • Keaau Elementary
  • Keaau High
  • Keaau Middle
  • Keonepoko Elementary
  • Naalehu Elementary
  • Pahoa Elementary
  • Pahoa High


  • Hana High & Elementary


  • Lanai High & Elementary


  • Kekaha Elementary

The seven schools in the pilot program will continue participating:

  • Kaunakakai Elementary School, Molokai
  • Kilohana Elementary School, Molokai
  • Maunaloa Elementary School, Molokai
  • Molokai Middle School, Molokai
  • Molokai High School, Molokai
  • Mountain View Elementary School, Hawaii Island
  • Linapuni Elementary School, Oahu

Under the federal program, the USDA reimburses the state at a higher rate for all lunches served at participating schools, meaning the state will be able to recoup more of its costs. The DOE, which serves roughly 110,000 lunches a day, spends $5.50 to prepare a lunch including food costs, labor and utilities.

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  • Another notch higher for the welfare state. Feed your own kids and I’ll feed mine. These clowns try to make you feel good by saying federal money is also being used. That is still our tax money. It must be the Bernie affect.

    • People need to remember there are really only four ways to spend money:

      1) Spend your own money on yourself.

      2) Spend your own money on somebody else.

      3) Spend somebody else’s money on yourself.

      4) Spend somebody else’s money on somebody else.

      If you can manage to swing #3 and #4, then you really don’t need to worry about doing #1 and #2.

    Too bad the two BIGOTED-BOZO’S commenting above really believe that the miniscule sum of money they actually pay in taxes annually really count (not even a ripple in the big pond..). THE MISTAKES OF THE PRESENT GENERATION WILL BE BORN BY THE FUTURE GENERATIONS–who need all the ammunition they can get. Fueling a mind is fueling a sustainable and improved future for this planet and it’s inhabitants. FEED THE CHILDREN!

  • So……………everyone in those schools eat for FREE……you taxpayers are suckers.

    Make the kids eat locally grown poi, kale, kalo/taro, purple or orange yams. Also all the bananas pineapples and papayas, either as a fruit or in a smoothie spiked with vitamins.

    Less meat and more soups…

    Get the State to buy the former sugarcane/pineapple fields, then long term leases to our local farmers so they can get rich and pay more taxes.

  • RIDICULOUS!!!! Parents should be responsible for feeding their own kids and, in fact, taking care of their own kids….they gave birth to their kids, they are held responsible for their care NOT THE STATE……SICK OF THE STATE PROVIDING FOR EVERY NEED OF THESE KIDS…..Yeah, you can criticize me for being heartless and cruel but its these parents and these liberal idiots that are draining are monies to feed these kids…………

  • I am all for kids getting sufficient meals.

    I am, however, not too happy that we have so many adults that can’t even properly feed their own children. There are far too many human leeches in our society. Don’t they have any pride in themselves? People need to be responsible – get an education or job skills, work hard, stay away from bad drugs (including alcohol and tobacco), get a family and create a nice environment for all to live a good life. Shame on these bad parents.

    • This is a perfect world. People are too lazy to work, too many handouts, no reason to find a job. Food, money, drugs, liquor, cigarettes courts, bath houses delivered to your camp site. Food stamps they turn to cash because the kids get two squares at school.

  • 110,000 lunches a day at $5.50 each? Taxpayers are getting ripped off royal again by the incompetent administration and the wasteful public worker unions. It’s just like the DOE paying 75 million a year to bus a few thousand SE kids to school.Just crazy expensive for everything they do, time to PRIVATIZE!
    At that volume, these costs could be cut in half if they put it out to bid to the private sector. At $5.50 each we might as well send them all to McDonald’s for lunch.

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