In Education, Private Sector, US Congress

Christine Donnelly; Honolulu Advertiser Kokua Line; September 12, 2016

Question: Is the free lunch program only for public schools? I’m wondering because we are thinking of sending our daughter to private school (with financial aid and help from extended family) and I want to consider all the benefits she receives and how we would make them up.

Answer: No, the National School Lunch Program is not limited to public schools. However, only three or four private schools in Hawaii currently participate, so be sure to check directly with the school you are considering.

The meal rebate does not travel with an individual child; subsidies go to participating institutions, which serve free meals to students who meet family-income limits.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service administers the National School Lunch Program at the federal level. Its website explains that the program’s goal is to provide nutritious, inexpensive or free lunches to school-age children. Generally, public or nonprofit private schools of high-school grade or under may participate, as may public or nonprofit private residential child care institutions. They receive cash subsidies per meal, as well as food from the USDA. In return, they must serve lunches that meet federal requirements, and must offer free or reduced-price meals to eligible students.

Participating schools pay their own bills up front and are reimbursed as long as they comply with USDA rules, which include preparing meals in commercial-grade kitchens and ensuring that each meal has enough whole grains, fruits, vegetables and high-quality protein.

In Hawaii, the program is overseen by the Hawaii Child Nutrition Program, under the administration of the state Department of Education’s School Food Services Branch.

Sue Uyehara, program director, encouraged more private nonprofit schools to participate and said that USDA grants may be available to help them upgrade their kitchens to meet the standards. Schools also may hire USDA-compliant vendors to prepare the meals, she said.

The school lunch program is one of several programs HCNP oversees, with the goal of keeping kids from going hungry and promoting healthful eating habits from an early age. Learn more at

Q: I recently received and trashed the annual small telephone book that is delivered, unwanted, to my driveway. This means the two large phone books will be coming next. I do not want these or the plastic bag they come in. My neighbors complain, too. Is there a way we can signal to the delivery staff not to force them on us? Perhaps a yellow ribbon on our mailbox pole? The worst part about this is that we are forced to get rid of the books; at least the company should come back and pick up unwanted books at our homes.

A: A yellow ribbon won’t do the trick, but you can go to to remove yourself from the delivery list. Plug in your ZIP code and a list of telephone books delivered in your area will pop up. Once you register with the site (which requires your name, address, phone number and email address), you can choose which directories, if any, you wish to receive. It takes up to 12 weeks to process an opt-out request, according to the site, which promises never to use your contact information for advertising or marketing purposes.


Sincerest mahalos to the bus driver at the stop on Nuuanu Avenue near Bates Street. On Sept. 2 at around 8:15 a.m., my 88-year-old father was crossing the street to catch the bus and fell. His face was bleeding and both wrists were hurt pretty badly from trying to brace himself for the fall. When he boarded the bus, he told the driver that he had fallen, which was pretty obvious from all of the blood on his face. The driver stopped the bus soon after leaving and went up to my dad to ask if he was all right. He then proceeded to call in to his office to report the incident and asked for another bus to pick up the other passengers. He then called for an ambulance which took my dad to the hospital. Thank goodness for the driver’s concern and quick thinking. My dad is pretty bruised up but otherwise no major damage internally. May this kind and thoughtful person be rewarded many times over for helping my elderly dad. — Mahalo and aloha, D.H.

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