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RATIONALE:

For many families, the cost of school meals can be a barrier to accessing the balanced diet their children need. Hunger and inadequate nutrition are associated with stress, depression, and chronic disease. Two out of three struggling families are ineligible for free school meals. Universal free school meals can provide meals to students who may otherwise not eat at all.

Not only were all children assured they would have daily food, but schools that implemented free school meals saw their Math and English test scores increase at a rate equivalent to attending six additional weeks of school. While six additional weeks of school would cost Hawaiʻi $300 million annually, universal free school meals would cost Hawaiʻi only $25 million annually.

2024 Bills:

HB 1775 and SB 2327

TAKE ACTION NOW:

Public hearings are an opportunity for the public to weigh in on bills being considered by lawmakers. Submitting testimony for these hearings is an important way to let lawmakers know your position on these important issues. All you need to do is share why you are in strong support (we have some talking points below to get you started!). Each hearing may have different lawmakers, so you must submit testimony each time there is a new hearing.

Hearing Information

Bill: HB 1775
Position: Strong Support
Committee: House Committee on Finance
Date/Time: Friday, February 23 at 1:00 PM

Hearing Notice

How to Submit Testimony

  1. Log-in /make an account on the Capitol website.
  2. Go to the bill page for HB 1775 and click on the “Submit Testimony” button.
  3. Upload or write your testimony in SUPPORT of the bill (It doesn’t need to be long!).
  4. Please submit testimony by Thursday, February 22 at 1:00 PM (at least 24 hours in advance) to ensure your testimony is received on time and reviewed by the committee members!

TALKING POINTS:

  • No Child Should Go Hungry – 2 out of 3 struggling families are not eligible for free school meals. This bill would ensure that anybody can eat for free and our hungry keiki would not be forced to skip meals.
  • No child would have the stigma of having to return a meal because of no money in their school food account.
  • Hungry students cannot focus on learning. All children deserve to be fed during the school day, so that they are ready to learn.
  • Increased Academic Performance – When universal free school meals has been implemented elsewhere, student test scores rose the equivalent of 6 additional weeks of school. A 1% increase in the Department of Education budget can provide a 15% increase in outcomes.
  • Improved Health Outcomes – Hungry students are at much higher risks for stress, depression and chronic disease. Investing in nutritious food for our keiki will result in lifelong benefits to their health.
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