HONOLULU (KHON2) — All public school students will be eligible to receive free meals throughout school year 2021 to 2022, the Hawaii Department of Education announced on Thursday.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a nationwide waiver on school meals in an effort to minimize possible spread of COVID-19 at schools across the country. The free meals will help to minimize payment transactions in school cafeterias and settings where students and cashiers may not be able to maintain social distancing.

For Hawaii’s 257 public schools, the meals offer one less worry to parents preparing to send their keiki back to school in the fall. Students will be able to receive one free breakfast and one free lunch each day at their school of enrollment.

“This has been a challenging time for our ʻohana, and I am proud to continue our safety net support through actions that improve food security for our students while providing economic relief for our families,” Superintendent Dr. Christina Kishimoto said. “The health and safety of our haumana continues to be our top priority, and as we fully reopen schools to in-person learning, this waiver will allow for a more efficient, contactless experience for students and our food service team.”

Parents and guardians who have not yet purchased meal credits for the upcoming school year via the EZMealApp mobile app or through their school 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.

For more information, click here or contact the School Food Services Branch at (808) 784-5500. More information on the USDA waiver is available here.