The Office of the Governor has released the following story.
Click here to watch the video titled Feeding Hawai‘i’s keiki during the summer months.
In the summer months, schools go on break. For many children in Hawai‘i, that means they stop eating the regular meals they’re used to during the school year.
A program funded by the federal government allowed 60 Hawai‘i public schools to keep serving free breakfast and lunch this summer. All children 18 years old and younger, even those not enrolled in that particular school, are able to have a free meal at these schools under the Seamless Summer Option program.
At Kaewai Elementary School in Kalihi, students get to eat some of their favorite school meals, like pizza for Victoriana Vili, an incoming fifth grader. If it were up to incoming fourth grader, Steven Houston, he would have ice cream on the menu.
“A hungry child cannot learn,” said Sharon Egi, School Food Services Branch Supervisor, Windward, who estimates that about 60,000 children benefitted from this program this summer. “We want to encourage them to come eat breakfast and lunch because I really believe it does help in the learning process.”
Schools participating in the free summer meal program must have at least 50 percent of their regular enrolled students who qualify for free or reduced-price meals. The Hawai‘i Department of Education has participated in this program for years now and, pending future funding, plans to continue it next summer.
“A lot of our students at Kaewai are in foster care and come from troubled backgrounds,” said Kaewai Elementary School Principal Bert Carter. “I always think that eating meals is a social activity and a lot of times, our students don’t eat as a family unit and this gives them an opportunity to be a family.”
At Kaewai Elementary, students could also attend Extended Learning Opportunities program during summer months that focuses on English language arts and math. As students go back to school across the islands for the 2011 to 2012 school year, Hawai'i’s education leaders – Governor Neil Abercrombie, Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi and Board of Education Chairman Don Horner – are all aligned to make it a great school year.
- Video by Erin Lau