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Heeding Calls from Hawaii Delegation, USDA Grants Flexibility to Provide Free Meals at Maui Schools

WASHINGTON, DC – In response to a letter from U.S. Senators Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) and Brian Schatz (D-HI) and U.S. Representatives Jill Tokuda (D-HI) and Ed Case (D-HI), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that it is granting the Hawaii Department of Education (HIDOE) with the flexibility to provide K-12 students with free school meals at six Maui schools for the remainder of the 2023-2024 school year. The six schools include four in Lahaina—King Kamehameha III Elementary, Princess Nahienaena Elementary, Lahaina Intermediate, Lahainaluna High—as well as Kihei Elementary and Kula Elementary.

In response to the announcement, the Hawaii Congressional delegation said, “As Maui works to recover and rebuild, we remain committed to doing everything we can to support those impacted by the fires. Providing these students on Maui with free and nutritious meals will give families critical financial relief and peace of mind in the months ahead.”

Effective February 1, 2024, the USDA approved HIDOE’s request to include the six schools for the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), which enables schools that predominantly serve low-income children to offer free, nutritious meals to all students through the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program without collecting school meal applications and regardless of household income.