Senator Kanuha announces inaugural DOE pilot program to provide meals to families in Kona and Ka‘u

Senator Dru Mamo Kanuha (D-Kona, Ka‘u) is announcing a collaboration between State and community leaders to secure a new pilot meal program administered through the Department of Education (DOE) called "Emergency Meals-to-You." The program is set up to help rural families in South Kona overcome transportation challenges associated with the department’s current pick-up sites for grab-and-go meals.

Starting on Monday, May 11, students who qualify for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Free and Reduced Price School Meal Program at Konawaena, Hōnaunau, and Hoʻokena Elementary Schools will automatically begin receiving two weeks' worth of shelf-stable breakfast and lunch meals for students.

“Due to the long commute associated with my districts’ disproportionately large distances between schools, DOE’s grab-and-go meal pick up program was insufficient in hitting the mark,” said Senator Kanuha. “During this difficult time, we needed to do more – to think innovatively and effectively – as we continue to fulfill our obligations to the communities we serve.

“Securing this pilot program, the first of its kind for the State of Hawai’i, is exciting and a sincere mahalo to everyone that was involved in the process,” he said, “including Principals Diane Spencer of Konawaena Elementary, Tammy Yoshimura-Furrer of Ho‘okena Elementary, and Noreen Kunimoto of Hōnaunau Elementary.

“This new program will provide some much-needed relief to families in South Kona who are struggling to receive nutritious meals.”

The cost of the meals will be reimbursable by the USDA.

In order to qualify, the child must be enrolled in a school that is not participating as an emergency meal site, and serves at least 50 percent free and reduced price meals in a rural community.

The program will continue through June 2020.