HONOLULU (KHON2) — The YMCA provides free meals to keiki in need during the school year and throughout the summer, but they are having a problem with getting enough funding to provide for all the kids in need.

Honolulu YMCA Youth Development Executive Director, Diane Tabangay said it is hard to get other organizations to help fund the meals because it is “a financial risk for them.

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Tabangay went on to explain, “and the other piece to it is having access to enough vendors that can provide U.S. Department of Agriculture approved meals, at a cost that’s affordable for providers, you know, and it’s just a domino effect.”

The YMCA receives funding from the USDA, but the current reimbursement rate has not changed since 1979, and Hawaii congressional leaders are requesting a 43% emergency increase.

The letter that Hawaii congressional leaders sent to the USDA on Friday, May 20 has been received. Sen. Brian Schatz said he is planning on personally reaching out to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack about this matter.

“We’re fighting for these kids, we’re fighting for these families, we’re fighting for these communities. They deserve to go to school and live their lives without hunger panics.”

Brian Schatz, U.S. Senator

Senator Brain Schatz handed lunches out on Wednesday, July 6 and the keiki had nothing but smiles on their faces. Some keiki said lunch was their favorite time of day

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Click here for more information on the Feed Our Keiki report.