Community Groups Offer Free Lunch To Kids

The grab-and-go meals at a handful of sites around Oahu supplement the DOE’s own meal service which began this week while schools are closed.By Suevon Lee / March 24, 2020

Several nonprofits and child advocacy organizations have banded together to offer free lunches to kids 18 and under during this time of unplanned school closures because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Sites offering lunch from March 23 to March 27 include Kalihi Valley International Bike Program, Kipapa Elementary School, Nuuanu YMCA, Palolo Valley Homes and Puohala Elementary.

Those sites will serve grab and go lunches from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., including on Thursday, which is Prince Kuhio Day, a state holiday.

Additionally, all this week — with the exception of Thursday — Kuhio Park Terrace Resource Center will offer free grab and go lunch to kids from noon to 1 p.m.

Meals being distributed to kids 18 and under this week and next will be for pick-up only in grab and go containers.

Starting next Monday to April 3, Palama Settlement will also offer meals to kids from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Here is a map showing where these new meal sites are located.

The partnership includes YMCA Honolulu, Parents and Children Together, Palama Settlement, Aloha Harvest, Kapiolani Community College, Hawaii Appleseed Center and Hawaii Child Nutrition Programs.

“On a typical school day, about 61,000 economically disadvantaged Hawaii students benefit from free or reduced-price school meals,” a statement from Hawaii Appleseed said. “For many, these are the only nutritious meals that they eat regularly.”

Dates of service at the above community sites may be extended “depending upon DOE announcement of further school closures and funding availability.”

The Hawaii Department of Education began offering grab-and-go breakfast and lunch meal service this week at 38 school sites across the islands, including Honolulu, Maui, Kauai and Big Island. Public schools are closed until at least April 7 to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. UPDATE: The DOE announced Tuesday afternoon schools will now be closed through April 30.

The DOE distributed over 3,600 meals statewide on Monday, it said in a tweet.

Some are worried the DOE-distributed free breakfasts and meals aren’t enough. On Tuesday morning, House Rep. Amy Perruso posted on her Facebook page that Leilehua High in Wahiawa “looked like it was going to run out of food for the second day in a row.”

“We know we have kids in Lakeview Circle and Whitmore who will not be able to walk in rain for school meal,” she wrote. “We need to figure out how to serve the most vulnerable.”