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Hawaii public school cafeteria workers begin free meal service

  • BRUCE ASATO / BASATO@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                Above, Debbie Kamana‘ o, kitchen helper at the Kaimuki High School cafeteria, waved Monday at a vehicle departing the Grab-and- Go meal pickup at the school. School meals were available free for children up through age 18 regardless of eligibility for subsidized lunch.

    BRUCE ASATO / BASATO@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Above, Debbie Kamana‘ o, kitchen helper at the Kaimuki High School cafeteria, waved Monday at a vehicle departing the Grab-and- Go meal pickup at the school. School meals were available free for children up through age 18 regardless of eligibility for subsidized lunch.

  • BRUCE ASATO / BASATO@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                Ruth Iaela-Pukahi and company showed two of the seven school meals she picked up for her seven students, including Anya Pukahi, 6, right, and Kiana Johnson- Iaela, 2, front.

    BRUCE ASATO / BASATO@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Ruth Iaela-Pukahi and company showed two of the seven school meals she picked up for her seven students, including Anya Pukahi, 6, right, and Kiana Johnson- Iaela, 2, front.

  • BRUCE ASATO / BASATO@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                Ruth Iaela-Pukahi, standing in back, shows two of the schools meals, each consisting of a fish sandwich, toss salad with edamame, apple slice, slush drink and milk, she picked up . With her at Kaimuki High School today are from left Taye Pukahi, 10, Kiana Johnson-Iaela, 2, Anya Pukahi, 6, and Keanu Johnson-Iaela, 3.

    BRUCE ASATO / BASATO@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Ruth Iaela-Pukahi, standing in back, shows two of the schools meals, each consisting of a fish sandwich, toss salad with edamame, apple slice, slush drink and milk, she picked up . With her at Kaimuki High School today are from left Taye Pukahi, 10, Kiana Johnson-Iaela, 2, Anya Pukahi, 6, and Keanu Johnson-Iaela, 3.

Public school cafeteria workers distributed 1,089 breakfasts and 2,603 lunches to children Monday, the first day of the free Grab-and-Go meal service for students on Oahu, Maui, Hawaii island and Kauai.

The meals were offered at 23 schools and will be extended to more schools Tuesday and Wednesday, reaching 39 campuses statewide during spring break, which has been extended through April 6 to stem the spread of COVID-19.

“The schools represent more than schools,” said Randall Tanaka, assistant superintendent for the Office of Facilities and Operations. “We’re to some degree a social safety net for those that can’t afford food or need this support. We see this as part of our responsibility to the community.”

The meals are available free for children up through age 18 on weekdays, regardless of eligibility for subsidized lunch, except on Prince Kuhio Day, this Thursday.

>> PHOTO GALLERY: Public schools distribute free meals

The food is packed in containers and available for pick up outside cafeterias from 7:30 a.m.-8 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.-noon. Parents or caregivers must bring their child when picking up the meals, under federal requirements.

Employees followed social distancing requirements while running the takeout meal program.

“We want to say thank you to all the employees who were willing to come in,” Albert Scales, administrator of the School Food Services Branch said. “They’re doing a great community service… Without them there’s going to be people who may not have any meals at all.

“I believe the DOE along with our community partners are coming together from the grassroots up all the way to the state level to take care of our own,” he added. “We have no idea what the future holds but we’re all coming together as partners to really make this work.”

As of Tuesday, Oahu schools providing meals are: Dole Middle School, Farrington High, Kahaluu Elementary, Kahuku High & Intermediate, Kailua Elementary, Kaimuki High, King Intermediate, Leilehua High, Makalapa Elementary, McKinley High, Waialua High & Intermediate and Waimanalo Elementary & Intermediate.

On Wednesday, the Leeward Oahu district will also begin distribution at August Ahrens Elementary, Campbell High, Kapolei High, Maili Elementary, Nanaikapono Elementary, Nanakuli High & Intermediate, Waianae Intermediate, Waianae High and Waipahu Elementary.

To see which Neighbor Island schools are participating and any updates from the Department of Education, go online here.

Click here to see our full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak. Submit your coronavirus news tip.

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