Paying for cheesy bites and other cafeteria updates


Na Hoku Staff

School breakfast: Portuguese sausage with rice, peaches, and eggs.

Jameson Huang, Staff Writer

The phrase “there is no such thing as a free lunch” has finally come true as the federal government has stopped funding the waiver program that allowed all public school students nationwide to have access to free school meals. All of Hawaii’s 257 public schools, including Moanalua High School, will return to charging for breakfast and lunch. 

The price for meals varies from school to school. But at Moanalua, breakfast is now served for $1.10 and lunch for $2.75. If students want a second lunch, they will have to pay $5.50, the full adult price.

During the quarantine period of 2020, many public school cafeterias still operated, serving lunches to students who wanted it. Cafeteria staff sold around 20 lunches during the period when students were engaged in virtual learning.  Students either picked up lunches from the teachers’ parking lot or, in the spring when groups of students were allowed back on campus. 

Last year, when Moanalua moved back to in-person learning, the cafeteria distributed 800-900 meals, free of charge. This uptick can be attributed to there being no charge for the meals. But with the upcoming 2022-2023 school year, with school lunches no longer being free, the cafeteria expects to serve around 700-800 meals, a decrease from the previous year. 

When asked how he predicts the number of meals that will be served each day, Cafeteria Manager Curtis Haida said he takes into account student preferences when deciding the lunch count. For example, Haida said Moanalua students really disliked the tuna sandwich on the menu but really liked cheesy bites.

The state’s school lunch committee has provided schools with a recipe for a new entree this year. Hamburger Curry will make its debut on Wednesday, August 24. Snacks will also be sold in the cafeteria from the snack back at the end of the lunch period. 

Cafeteria helper Nicole Nishikawa said the cafeteria will sell juice, Cheez-its, fresh fruits, and Chex mix. 

The biometric system for identification is also new this year. With many students losing or forgetting their IDs, the Moanalua High School administration decided that it would be beneficial to purchase this new system. Schools that implemented this system saw an uptick in their lunch counts, Haida said.