This upcoming school year, the Hawai`i State Department of Education will expand a U.S. Department of Agriculture free meal program, called the Community Eligibility Provision, from 30 public schools to a total of 52 across the state.
The CEP program allows a school district, a group of schools or a single school to serve free meals to all students even if they do not qualify for free or reduced-priced lunch reimbursements.
“We are very pleased to be able to expand this program to 22 additional schools statewide to provide free meals for over 8,500 more students,” said Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “The program helped over 18,000 students to receive free meals over the past two years and provided significant relief for many families.”
Among the Hawai`i Island schools added to the program are Chiefess Kapiolani Elementary, Hilo Union Elementary, Honaunau Elementary, Hookena Elementary, Keaukaha Elementary, Ke Kula O Ehunuikaimalino, and Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole Elementary & Intermediate, and Waimea Elementary.
To qualify for the CEP program, a district, grouping or school must have a minimum of 40 percent or more of its students eligible for free or reduced-price meals through the National School Lunch Program.
Currently HIDOE pays an average of $5.50 a meal (including food costs, labor, utilities, etc.). The USDA reimburses the state $3.89 for students who qualify for a free meal and $0.44 for those paying for a meal. HIDOE charges $2.50 for elementary school meals for a total of $2.94 in recouped cost for the state.
Under the program all students in the CEP school would qualify for the higher $3.89 reimbursement. While participating schools may no longer be collecting meal monies and ensuring accounts have sufficient funds, families will be required to provide information for data collection.
The 22 additional schools (including the Hawai`i Island schools listed above) being added to the program in school year 2017-18 are:
Governor Sanford B. Dole Middle
Mayor Joseph J. Fern El.
William P. Jarrett Middle
The 30 schools already participating in the program in school year 2016-17 are:
Kau High & Pahala El.
Mountain View El.
Blanche Pope El.
Nanakuli High & Intermediate
Waimanalo El. & Intermediate
Hana High & El.
Lanai High & El.