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Families eligible for free and reduced-price school meals encouraged to apply

PC: Hawaiʻi Department of Education.

The Hawaiʻi State Department of Education’s school meal service will revert back to pre-pandemic operations for the 2022-23 school year due to the June 30, 2022 expiration of the US Department of Agriculture’s free student meals waivers. 

“We are grateful to have had this federal waiver that allowed our schools to support families throughout the pandemic with student meals at no cost,” Superintendent Keith Hayashi said. “Our free summer meal program underway should provide families some time to transition back to normal school food services, and we strongly encourage those eligible for free and reduced-price meals to apply as soon as applications become available.”

For the 2022-23 school year, school meal operations will return to the normal National School Lunch Program, where only eligible children will receive meals at a free or reduced price. Meal prices for the coming school year remain unchanged at the following prices:

Families eligible for free and reduced-priced meals can apply via online applications at EZMealApp.com starting July 15. Paper applications will also be available at schools. 

Applications may be submitted at any time during the year; however, families should allow the Department 10 operating days to fully process applications. The information provided on the application will be used only for purposes of determining eligibility and will be kept confidential. Information submitted may be verified at any time during the school year by the school or other program officials.

The household size and income criteria identified below will be used for determining eligibility for free and reduced-price benefits. Children from households whose income is at or below the levels shown are eligible for free or reduced-price meals.

Students who were eligible for either free or reduced-price meals at the end of the last school year will have that status carried over until Sept. 13, 2022, or until a new application is processed.

If the students are members of households receiving assistance from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, no application is required for free meal benefits as all children in these households are eligible for free meal benefits. If any child is not listed on the eligibility notice, the household should contact the school to have the free meal benefits extended to that child.

Students also enrolled at schools participating in the Community Eligibility Provision program do not need to submit applications, as all students attending these schools receive one breakfast and one lunch meal for free. The most current list of CEP participating schools can be found here.

After applications are processed, households will be notified of their child’s eligibility. Households approved for free or reduced-price meals are not required to report changes in income status, household size, or when the household is no longer eligible for SNAP or TANF. Families that have been approved for reduced-price meals may reapply at any time should they become eligible for free meals. If a household chooses to decline free meal benefits for the children, the household must contact the school.

Households will be notified of their children’s eligibility for free meals if they are defined by law as homeless, migrant, runaway, a foster child, or are enrolled in Head Start, when that information is made known to the HIDOE School Food Services Branch.

The Department will review applications and determine eligibility. Parents or guardians may discuss a decision on an application with the reviewing official on an informal basis, or make a request for a formal appeal hearing on the decision to:

Lindsay Rodrigues
School Food Program Administrator
1106 Koko Head Avenue
Honolulu, HI 96816
808-784-5500

Original source: https://mauinow.com/2022/07/02/families-eligible-for-free-and-reduced-price-school-meals-encouraged-to-apply/

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