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Hawaii News | Kokua Line

Kokua Line: Free meals don’t stop at 18 for students in special education

Question: There’s been a lot on the news about the free meals handed out at public schools but they always say for children 18 and younger. What about for students with disabilities who continue in public school past age 18? My son is one of them and I know there are many others. May we pick up for them?

Answer: Yes. You are one of several parents who has asked about older students’ eligibility for the Department of Education’s Grab- and-Go meal program, which continues to operate at numerous locations.

As you mentioned, the program has been broadly promoted as serving children 18 and younger, regardless of whether they are eligible for free lunch during the regular school year or attend the school where the food is being distributed.

That’s all accurate, but overlooks the fact that special education services last past age 18. Students in that category are eligible for the free meals up to age 22, the DOE confirmed, because special education services extend from age 3 to 22.

RELATED STORY: New sponsors sought as free meals for Hawaii kids drop for summer

As with younger children, the Grab-and-Go school meals for special-ed students over age 18 may be picked up without the student being present if the parent or guardian provides one of the following verification documents:

>> Official letter or email from school listing child(ren) enrolled

>> Recent student report card(s)

>> Attendance record(s) from parent portals of school websites

>> Birth certificate(s) of child(ren)

>> Student ID card(s)

>> Driver’s permit/license(s) for high school students

>> State-issued ID of the student

The meals program has transitioned over to a summer schedule, with fewer locations participating. Check for an updated list of sites, most of which serve breakfast from 7:30 to 8 a.m. and lunch from 11:30 a.m. to noon, for pickup only. A few sites serve only lunch.

Regarding special education services, they are available to individuals ages 3 to 22 after an eligibility screening determines that the student needs specially designed instruction. After age 22, the person may be referred to the state Department of Health and the state Department of Human Serv­ices for continuing services.

Q: Regarding temperature checks at the airport, what will put you in the “no-fly” fever zone?

A: A temperature above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the state Department of Transportation’s website. You are referring to new rules that will be in place when the state lifts the 14-day quarantine requirement for interisland travel, effective June 16.

“The state Department of Transportation will require thermal screening at the airport for everyone traveling interisland. HDOT also will require travelers to fill out a new form that will now also ask for health-related information to assist the state in tracking and responding to new COVID-19 cases. Travelers may be prohibited from boarding a flight if they have an elevated temperature above 100.4 degrees, they refuse to complete the mandatory form, or they are on the 14-day quarantine list prohibiting them from flying,” according to a news release posted on the state Department of Transportation website, at

Other readers wanted to know what health information they’ll have to disclose to fly interisland once the quarantine rule is lifted, but the form hasn’t been released yet. “The new interisland form is still in draft form and will be shared when it is finalized by June 16,” said Tim Sakahara, DOT spokesman.


Mahalo to Jimmy and his wife, whose name I did not get, for helping me when I fell at Punchbowl Cemetery. You really helped me when I couldn’t get up. I really appreciate it. — Forever mahalo, Frank

Write to Kokua Line at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or email

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

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