By ERIN MILLER
Stephens Media Hawaii
Families with students in public schools will be able to earn a little more and still qualify for free or reduced school meals, Department of Education officials say.
The department recently released the revised income eligibility guidelines for the program, which subsidizes the costs of school meals. The new guidelines allow households with two members to earn $23,205 a year to get free meals and to earn $32,023 annually to get reduced-priced meals. Those are increases of $572 and $814 respectively.
Statewide, 52 percent of students receive free or reduced-price meals, DOE officials said Monday.
DOE School Food Services Director Glenna Owens was unavailable for additional comment about the program Monday. A DOE report from 2011-2012 showing how many students per school qualify for food assistance listed DeSilva Elementary as the Hawaii Island school with the lowest participation rate, 33 percent. Honaunau Elementary School that year had 92 percent of students qualify for either free or reduced-price lunches, while Naalehu Elementary School had 91 percent of students qualify for the program.
Free lunch annual income limits are as follows: families of three may earn $29,211, families of four may earn $35,217, families of five may earn $41,223, families of six may earn $47,229, families of seven may earn $53,235 and families of eight may earn $59,241. The income limits to qualify for reduced-price lunch are as follow: families of three may earn $41,570, families of four may earn $50,117, families of six may earn $67,211, families of seven may earn $75,758 and families of eight may earn $84,305.
The DOE is sending application forms to all parents and guardians. Parents fill out the application and return it to the school where the child is enrolled or complete an online application via ezmealapp.com. The DOE began accepting applications July 1.
Lunch at state elementary schools is $2.25 per meal. Lunch at state secondary schools is $2.50.
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