An additional 22 Hawaii public schools will offer free meals to all of their students in the upcoming school year, for a total of 52 campuses participating in the program.
The free meals are possible thanks to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Community Eligibility Provision, which allows a school district or group of schools to serve free meals to all students, even if they don't qualify for free or reduced-priced lunches.
State Schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi said the expansion will mean an additional 8,500 students will be covered by the program.
Over the last two years, the program has helped more than 18,000 students.
The 22 additional schools being added to the program in the upcoming school year are:
Governor Sanford B. Dole Middle
Mayor Joseph J. Fern El.
William P. Jarrett Middle
Chiefess Kapiolani El.
Hilo Union El.
Ke Kula O Ehunuikaimalino
Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole El. & Inter.
The 30 schools already participating in the program are:
Blanche Pope El.
Nanakuli High & Intermediate
Waimanalo El. & Intermediate
Hana High & El.
Lanai High & El.
Kau High & Pahala El.
Mountain View El.
To qualify for the program, at least 40 percent of students in a district must qualify for free or reduced-cost lunches.
The state pays an average of $5.50 a meal, counting food costs, labor and utilities. The USDA then reimburses the state $3.89 for students who qualify for a free meal and $0.44 for those paying for a meal.
For schools that don't offer free meals, elementary school students pay $2.50 for lunch.