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Free lunch program starts

HANAMA‘ULU — Monday marked the first day of the Summer Enrichment program at King Kaumuali‘i Elementary School.

“We have 60 students enrolled in the program,” said KKES Principal Jason Yoshida. “This the first time we’re having any kind of summer program since the COVID-19 pandemic. Those Summer Enrichment students will also get the free lunch before they go home.”

KKES is one of the 83 schools, and one of three on Kaua‘i, to offer summer meals to children ages 18 and younger under the Seamless Summer Option to ensure that children continue to receive balanced nutrition during the summer break.

The other two schools on Kaua‘i participating in the SSO program are Kapa‘a Elementary, that started serving lunch Friday, and Kekaha School, where the first lunches were served Monday.

Kapa‘a Elementary School is serving lunch from 10:30 to 10:50 a.m., and Kekaha School serves from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

The state Department of Education announced last month that 83 select public schools will serve meals free of charge over the summer, excluding state holidays, to children ages 18 years and younger,
regardless of public-school-enrollment status through its summer food service program.

“This is for the community, for children 18 years and below,” Yoshida said. “This is the first day we’re doing this, and I have no idea what to expect. The Summer Enrichment program students already account for 60 meals, and we don’t know how many are coming from the community.”

With the exception of this Friday, June 10, the King Kamehameha Day holiday, and Monday, July 4, the Independence Day holiday, the meals at KKES are served weekdays starting at 11 a.m. and ending at noon. The SSO program is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and was established to ensure that children continue to receive nutritious meals during the summer.

“Good nutrition is vital to the health and development of our growing keiki, and summer-food-service programs help to ensure that meals are available for all school-aged children during the summer break,” said state DOE Superintendent Keith Hayashi.

“We encourage our parents to make these meals part of your child’s summer schedules, to give them balanced and nutritious options. We thank our devoted cafeteria staff and administrators and our federal partners for making this program possible each year,” sid Hayashi.

KKES is offering a lunch-only option, with recipients having to dine-in at the school’s cafeteria, wear masks except when eating, submit to temperature checks and follow hand-sanitizing protocols. Diners are also spaced socially distant to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and its variants.

According to the DOE announcement, KKES’ program runs through June 30, Kapa‘a Elementary’s continues through July 1, and Kekaha School’s program ends on July 15.


Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or
Source: The Garden Island

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