PALOLO (KHNL) - More and more parents with students at Hawaii's public schools are taking advantage of free or reduced lunches and breakfasts.
It's another sign of what people are doing to tough it out in our current economy.
There are a lot of new applicants as well as strong renewals. Public school lunch may not seem a lot to some parents. Right now, it's $1.25, but there are others who feel saving that much could help their wallets in a big way.
90 percent of Palolo Elementary School students get free or reduced meals. It's one of the highest rates in the state.
But even with that high number, the school still sees more re-submitted applications.
"Some parents are getting laid off and they're re-submitting it because they can't afford to pay for their child's even reduced lunch, so even if they're getting reduced, they can re-submit their application to get free lunch," Palolo Elementary meal coordinator Sonja Samsonas said.
Compared to last year, the free or reduced meal program has seen around 5,000 more applications.
every individual island has had an increase in applications as well.
"There are more parents that need the assistance to get school lunches and the trend is to apply for free or reduced priced meals," Department of Education School Food Services supervisor Janice Low said.
While most Palolo students enjoy their free or reduced hot lunches Thursday, the effort to bring in more qualified children grows like their appetites.
"We'd like to see the people that deserve the benefits to apply for free meals, so their children can eat a hot meal each day for both breakfast and lunch," Low said.
Last year, 90 schools across the state had at least half of its students enrolled in the program. This year, seven more schools have joined them.
Some parents tell us before these tough times, they overlooked this option to save. But now it's an option they can't refuse. That's why they're applying more often for free or reduced school meals.