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Following Calls Led By Hawai‘i Congressional Delegation, USDA Increases Summer Meal Benefit For Kids

Delegation Worked With USDA To Push For Increase For Hawai‘i

WASHINGTON – Following calls led by U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawai‘i) and U.S. Representatives Ed Case (D-Hawai‘i) and Jill Tokuda (D-Hawai‘i), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that it will increase the recently-authorized summer meal benefit for children in Hawai‘i to account for the higher cost of food in the state. This summer, children in Hawai‘i will receive $59 per month, compared to $40 per month in the continental U.S.

“This adjustment will mean more money to buy food for kids in need,” said Senator Schatz, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “I thank Secretary Vilsack for working with us to boost this benefit and help feed more kids across Hawai‘i.”

“I appreciate the USDA working with us to increase benefits to feed Hawai‘i’s keiki,” said Senator Hirono. “As we work to make sure every child has the support to learn and grow, this adjustment will help to increase food security and ensure children have access to healthy meals throughout the year.”

“For too many children, a school meal is often the only time they have something nutritious to eat,” said Representative Case, a member of the House Appropriations Committee. “Our Hawai‘i delegation will continue to do what we can to fight hunger – from keiki to kupuna.”

“While we must continue to fight to ensure that USDA’s Thrifty Food Plan (TFP) reflects the higher cost of food in rural parts of Hawai‘i, I am encouraged that the USDA has taken the important step of increasing the EBT benefit in Hawai?i to ensure that eligible keiki can access nutritional food during the summer. Food costs in Hawai?i, especially on neighbor islands, are significantly higher than costs on the continental United States, and I am pleased that the USDA is taking this important step to help feed over 100,000 children across the state and to get us closer to ending child hunger,” said Representative Tokuda.

Congress permanently authorized a summer EBT program last year, building on successful pandemic-era initiatives that helped prevent children from low-income households from going hungry. More than 95,000 children in Hawai‘i received benefits this year through the Summer Pandemic EBT program. In requesting the adjustment, the delegation cited USDA’s benefit adjustments for Hawai‘i for other federally-funded food assistance programs like Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the National School Lunch and National School Breakfast programs.