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A local non-profit steps up to feed Hawaii's hungry keiki for summer

Updated: Jun. 13, 2017 at 7:46 PM HST
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KALIHI (HawaiiNewsNow) - For the second year in a row, the local non-profit group Parents and Children Together (PACT), is offering to feed kids under the age of 18 who qualify for free meals at public schools during the school year.

It's lunch time at the Towers at Kuhio Park, a public housing project for low-income families where school aged kids, like Agnes Yano's two daughters, get a free meal through the summer lunch program.

"My husband works but he's not making a lot of money," she said.

For some of the kids in the program, it's their only meal of the day.

"So we wanted to make sure during the summer months that they get a lunch, at least a warm lunch every single day, and that nobody goes hungry," said Kim Golis-Robello, the program's director.

On Tuesday, PACT served 170 lunches.

A new national survey shows Hawaii has made big improvements in delivering summer lunches to youth in need, jumping ten spots to number 37 in a recent ranking of all 50 states.

"It encourages me but it doesn't surprise me because I think a number of organizations, including non-profits and government have made a concerted effort in this area," YMCA of Honolulu president and CEO Michael Broderick said.

The YMCA will serve 21,000 free lunches at its youth programs this summer while the Department of Education serves free lunches at 63 schools.

At 25 Summer Fun sites, the City and County of Honolulu also serves free lunches.

Still, only 10 percent of Hawaii's eligible students eat a free lunch because most low-income kids aren't in summer programs, and some summer programs don't include food.

"Last year we averaged between 100 and 110 keiki every day. And this year we're looking at 125 to 140 keiki," Golis-Robello said.

It will cost PACT about $24,000 this summer to purchase the meals from Kapiolani Community College.

The non-profit will serve free lunch at the Towers at Kuhio Park Monday through Friday through the first week in August.

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