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Free Meals for All Hawaii Students this Upcoming School Year

July 26, 2021

From the Office for Social Ministry

Public school students preparing to return to campus on August 3rd may be pleased to learn their breakfast and lunch meals are going to be provided at no cost for the entire 2021-2022 school year! While the Department of Education had already been providing grab and go meals for students K-12 since the beginning of the pandemic, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is now extending its waiver to continue the free breakfast and lunch meals as part of an effort to minimize the possible spread of COVID in schools. All students are eligible for the program, regardless of whether they qualify for free or reduced subsidized meals.

Parents and guardians who have not yet purchased meal credits for the upcoming school year do not need to take any action. Those who have already purchased meal credits in advance may choose to leave funds in the account for the following school year or contact their child’s school to request a refund. The cost savings to households that ordinarily pay for school meals will make it possible for parents to possibly reallocate their finances to pay for other necessities. The USDA waiver will be in effect through June 2022.

It is important for parents who qualify for free or reduced meals to continue submitting their Benefits applications online using the EZMealApp mobile app or at EZMealApp.com as information derived from the application directly impacts eligibility for other school programs, such as bus transportation and Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) food assistance.

SNAP COMPLIANCE

Families who are eligible forthe Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) are also encouraged to renew their applications to continue receiving benefits. The Department of Human Services reports that thousands of households may be at risk of losing their SNAP benefits for failing to complete the required paperwork. In June, the DHS notified more than 17,000 SNAP recipients that their applications were due, but less than 50% have responded. Those considered to be non-compliant will be receiving notice by mail that no new funds will be added to their EBT card until they re-apply.

It is critically important that households who still need SNAP benefits maintain their eligibility by responding immediately when receiving notice from DHS. Contact your case worker if your mailing address has changed or if you are uncertain about having met all the requirements.