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Public school breakfast, lunch to be free this school year

The Maui News

All students at Hawaii’s 257 public schools will receive free breakfast and lunch for the entirety of the 2021-22 school year in a move that federal officials hope will limit the spread of COVID-19.

The nationwide waiver from the U.S. Department of Agriculture aims to prevent transmission of the virus by eliminating meal payment transactions in school cafeterias. Federal funds will reimburse state education departments for meal costs.

“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,” Hawaii Department of Education Superintendent Christina Kishimoto said in a news release last week.

Parents and guardians who have not yet purchased meal credits for the upcoming school year through the mobile EZMealApp or their school do not need to sign up. 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, with one free meal each at breakfast and lunch. Additional meals or meal items at breakfast or lunch will be charged a normal rate.

Parents can still submit their free and reduced price lunch meal benefits applications online using the EZMealApp or going to EZMealApp.com, as this information also impacts eligibility for other school programs, such as bus transportation and Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer food assistance.

For more information, visit www.hawaiipublicschools.org/ConnectWithUs/Organization/Offices/FacilitiesandOperations/SchoolFoodServices/Pages/SY2021-22-student-meals-FAQs.aspx or contact the School Food Services Branch at (808) 784-5500. For more information on the USDA waiver, visit www.fns.usda.gov/cn/child-nutrition-response-85.

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