Molokaʻi – In an effort to provide relief to working-class families and ensure nutritious meals for keiki so they can focus better at school, Representative Mahina Poepoe introduced House Bill 1540, which requires eligible schools to participate in the Community Eligibility Provision, which provides federal funds to help schools offer free meals to all students.
House Bill 1540 outlines that the Community Eligibility Provision is a federal program that allows local educational agencies to choose to receive federal special assistance payments in exchange for providing free school meals to all students enrolled. The bill also allocates funds to cover the difference between federal amounts and the costs of offering free meals.
"Free student meal programs play a critical role in reducing child hunger, improving food insecurity, enhancing student health and well-being, and preparing our keiki to learn," said Representative Mahina Poepoe (D-13 Moloka‘i, Lāna‘i, Kaho‘olawe, portion of Kahului, Ha‘ikū, Pe‘ahi, Huelo, Nāhiku, Hāna, Kīpahulu). "A recent study released from the National Bureau of Economic Research revealed that schools participating in the community eligibility provision experienced lower school suspension rates."
The proposed legislation suggests that schools that participate in the community eligibility provision can also see future benefits including reducing the amount of staff time spent on processing paperwork, reducing debt associated with delinquent meal accounts, and ensuring that all students will be fed regardless of their ability to pay.
To monitor the progress of Bill 1540, click here.