• STAR-ADVERTISER / 2020 Cafeteria staff prepare lunch as social distancing signage is seen on the ground inside the cafeteria on Thursday, July 2, at Kapolei Middle School in Kapolei.

    STAR-ADVERTISER / 2020

    Cafeteria staff prepare lunch as social distancing signage is seen on the ground inside the cafeteria on Thursday, July 2, at Kapolei Middle School in Kapolei.

Hawaii’s schools will receive more than $2.3 million in increased funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help cover the cost of meal programs.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, announced the boost in funding today.

Schools will reap an estimated $2,340,000 in funds from the USDA in a mid-year increase to school meal reimbursements, Schatz said in a release.

“Hawaii’s school meal programs are essential to making sure that children have the nutritious meals they need to stay healthy and succeed in school,” Schatz said. “This additional funding helps to ensure that school meal programs have the support they need to continue providing healthy meals to students.”

The money is expected to be used by schools to serve nutritious meals to children, an effort made difficult by rising food costs and operational challenges related to the pandemic.

The USDA is augmenting school meal funding through a waiver established by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

As part of the arrangement, schools in Hawaii will receive reimbursement rates for school meals that are 22% higher than is standard.

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