HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

H.B. NO.

620

THIRTY-SECOND LEGISLATURE, 2023

 

STATE OF HAWAII

 

 

 

 

 

 

A BILL FOR AN ACT

 

 

RELATING TO SCHOOL MEALS.

 

 

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:

 


SECTION 1. The legislature finds that research has proven that universal meal programs have numerous benefits for all students, including improving student health and improving test scores. Allowing an entire school to eat for free, instead of restricting free meals to students whose families earn below a certain income level, reduces the stigma associated with free meals.

A recent study released by the National Bureau of Economic Research focused on the federal National School Lunch Program's Community Eligibility Provision, which allows schools where many students qualified for free or reduced-price meals to provide a free meal to all students. The study examined whether the provision of schoolwide free meals through the Community Eligibility Provision impacted school suspension rates and estimated that the chances of being suspended multiple times fell by about a third of a percentage point in elementary school and half a percentage point in middle school.

The legislature further finds that nutritious school meals support education by providing food to ensure that children are not distracted by hunger during class. Free student meal programs serve multiple roles, including working to reduce child hunger and food insecurity, improving student health and well‑being, and preparing children to learn.

Therefore, the legislature finds that every student should be provided access to cost-free nutritional meals and that universal school meals can improve this access. Additional benefits of universal free meals include lessening the amount of staff time spent on processing paperwork, reducing debt associated with delinquent meal accounts, and ensuring that any student requesting a meal can receive a meal regardless of their ability to pay.

Accordingly, the purpose of this Act is to require public schools to provide free breakfast and lunch to all enrolled students.

SECTION 2. Section 302A-323, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by amending subsection (e) to read as follows:

"(e) By June 30, 2022, and by each June 30 thereafter, the superintendent shall submit to the board and legislature a report of the computer science courses and computer science content offered during the previous school year at the schools in each complex area. The report shall include:

(1) The names and course codes of the computer science courses offered at each school;

(2) The number and percentage of students enrolled in each computer science course and computer science content, disaggregated by:

(A) Gender;

(B) Race and ethnicity;

(C) Special education status, including students eligible for special education under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, as amended, or section 504 of the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended;

(D) English language learner status;

(E) Eligibility for the free and reduced price breakfast and lunch [program;] programs; and

(F) Grade level;

provided that if a category contains one to five students, or contains an amount that would allow the amount of another category that contains one to five students to be determined, the number of students shall be replaced with a symbol indicating that one to five students fulfilled that particular category;

(3) The names and course codes of the courses containing computer science content and a description of the computer science standards and content that are covered by those courses; and

(4) The number of computer science instructors at each school, disaggregated by:

(A) Any applicable certification;

(B) Gender;

(C) Race and ethnicity; and

(D) Highest academic degree earned."

SECTION 3. Section 302A-404, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended to read as follows:

"302A-404 [School] Universal school meals. (a) School meals shall be made available under the school meals program in every school where the students are required to eat meals at school.

(b) Free school meals shall be provided to every student enrolled in public school, regardless of a student's eligibility for participation in the federal School Breakfast Program or the federal National School Lunch Program. Free school meals shall meet the meal requirements as established pursuant to title 7 Code of Federal Regulations section 210.10.

[(b)] (c) No student requesting a meal shall be denied a meal [solely for failure to pay:

(1) Within the first twenty-one days of the first semester of a school year while the student's application for free or reduced lunch is being processed; or

(2) Within seven days after a student's meal fund account reaches a zero or negative balance].

(d) The department shall:

(1) Seek to maximize student participation in accessing free school meals, which may include making school breakfast available to students in classrooms after the start of instruction and counting consumption time as instructional time;

(2) Maximize access to and receipt of federal funds and any other opportunities for non-state funds with the intent to draw down the maximum amount of federal funds for the cost of operating school meal programs; and

(3) Conduct an annual analysis for eligibility under the federal Community Eligibility Provision.

[(c)] (e) The department may adopt rules or policies governing the collection of funds for student [meal accounts with a negative fund balance;] meals; provided that no rule or policy shall prohibit feeding a student as required pursuant to subsection (b).

(f) The State shall reimburse the department for each public school that makes both school breakfast and school lunch available to students at no charge. Reimbursements shall be made quarterly at the rate of the cost of each meal that was provided at no charge and that would have qualified as a paid breakfast or paid lunch under the federal School Breakfast Program or the federal National School Lunch Program.

(g) It is the intent of this section not to jeopardize the receipt of any federal aid and to the extent, and only to the extent necessary to effectuate this intent, the governor may modify the strict provisions of this section, but shall promptly report any such modification with the governor's reasons therefor to the next succeeding session of the legislature for review."

SECTION 4. Section 302A-405, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by amending subsections (a) and (b) to read as follows:

"(a) The price for school meals shall be set by the department to ensure that moneys received from the sale of the meals shall be [not] no less than one-half of the cost of preparing the meals. The prices for school meals may be adjusted annually based on the previous year's costs rounded to the nearest five cents; provided that the department by rule shall provide [a lower rate or] free meals to children [based on] regardless of their economic need.

(b) All moneys received by or for the public school cafeterias from the sale of meals, the sale of services, the federal government, or any other source, shall be deposited in one special school [lunch] meal fund. Except as otherwise provided by the legislature, all expenditures for the operation of public school cafeterias shall be made from this fund."

SECTION 5. There is appropriated out of the general revenues of the State of Hawaii the sum of $           or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2023-2024 and the same sum or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2024-2025 to provide free school meals to every student enrolled in public school.

The sums appropriated shall be expended by the department of education for the purposes of this Act.

SECTION 6. Statutory material to be repealed is bracketed and stricken. New statutory material is underscored.

SECTION 7. This Act shall take effect on July 1, 2023; provided that this Act shall apply beginning with the 2023-2024 school year.

 

INTRODUCED BY:

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Report Title:

Public Schools; Free Breakfast and Lunch; Universal School Meals; Appropriation

 

Description:

Beginning with the 2023-2024 school year, requires public schools to provide free breakfast and lunch to all enrolled students. Appropriates funds.

 

 

 

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