Hawaiʻi delegation urges USDA to provide all Maui students with free school meals

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File PC: Hawaii Department of Education.

The Hawaiʻi congressional delegation is urging the USDA to grant the Hawaiʻi Department of Education the flexibility to provide all students on Maui with free school meals for at least the remainder of the 2023-2024 school year.

US Senators Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) and Brian Schatz (D-HI) and US Representatives Jill Tokuda (D-HI) and Ed Case (D-HI) sent a letter to US Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, asking for the consideration.

“Before the wildfires, more than 3,000 students and hundreds of teachers and staff members from HIDOE’s Lahainaluna Complex were getting ready to start their school year,” wrote the lawmakers. “But these students, teachers, and staff members had their lives completely upended by the wildfires, which displaced many of them to other communities. Since then, it has been clear that the impacts of the wildfires are being experienced by the entire island.”


Following the Lahaina wildfires, Maui has been impacted by higher unemployment rates, increased reliance on programs like the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and lower business revenue, the delegation said. The lawmakers’ request for would help to alleviate these burdens, providing thousands of students across the island with access to healthy, nutritious meals at no cost to their families during this difficult time.

“Given the tremendous work that lies ahead for Maui, it would be fully appropriate for the US Department of Agriculture to provide HIDOE with the flexibility to provide all Maui students with free school meals for at least the remainder of 2023-2024 school year—and possibly longer,” the lawmakers said.

The full text of the letter is available here.


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