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Hawaiʻi to get $20M in additional federal funds to keep keiki fed

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‘Ulu-licious Wraps are now on school menus in March.

Hawaiʻi will receive $20 million in additional assistance from the US Department of Agriculture to keep keiki fed, according to an announcement by US Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI).

The funding, some of which was authorized in the Keeping Kids Fed Act that Senator Hirono helped pass in both the House and Senate before it was signed into law last month, is meant to help Hawaiʻi address supply chain issues and food inflation in its school meal programs.

“Growing up, my school had to create a special program so I could ‘earn’ my lunch by working as a cashier in the cafeteria,” said Senator Hirono. “I knew even as a young girl that it is wrong for any child to go hungry at school for lack of lunch money, which is why I’ll keep fighting to do everything I can to make sure our keiki are fed. I’m glad that, thanks in large part to the bipartisan legislation we passed earlier this year, Hawaiʻi will receive 20 million in additional federal funding to help ensure all of our children have enough to eat. As we work to rebuild from the COVID-19 pandemic, this funding will help ease the burden on educators, child care providers, and families throughout our state.”

In June, Sen. Hirono helped pass the Keeping Kids Fed Act, which provides critical funding and flexibility to get children healthy meals over the summer and next year as schools and nonprofits continue to deal with supply chain challenges and high food prices. 

She also joined a letter calling for an extension of the US Department of Agriculture’s child nutrition waivers ahead of their expiration and a robust set of child nutrition priorities.

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In March, she signed a similar letter and cosponsored legislation to extend these waivers through next September.

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In April, she also met Hawaii Department of Education officials to discuss the need to extend flexibilities that have allowed schools to continue feeding students throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

The funding comes from an increase in the reimbursement rate schools and child care providers receive for free and reduced-price meals they serve. Effective July 1, 2022, the reimbursement schools receive for each meal served will increase by approximately $0.68 per free/reduced-price lunch and $0.32 per free/reduced price breakfast.

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