The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a federal program funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and administered at the federal level through its Food and Nutrition Service (FNS). In Hawaii, this service is provided by the Department of Human Services (DHS) Benefit, Employment & Support Services Division (BESSD). The SNAP program provides crucial food and nutritional support to qualifying low-income and needy households, and those making the transition from welfare to self-sufficiency.
The Hawaii Electronic Benefit Transfer (HI/EBT) system processes financial assistance benefits provided by BESSD. Payments distributed through this system are for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Temporary Assistance for Other Needy Families (TAONF), General Assistance (GA), Aid to the Aged, Blind or Disabled (AABD), Repatriates, Childcare, Employment and Training (E & T), First-To-Work (FTW) and the SNAP programs. Clients use an EBT debit card to access their cash and/or SNAP benefits at authorized food retailers through their Point of Sale (POS) machines and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs). Allpoint – Global Surcharge-Free ATM Networks are located across the state. Visit to find the system nearest to you.
Recipients receiving cash assistance may also choose to have their cash benefits directly deposited into their personal bank accounts. Households must meet specific eligibility requirements and provide proof of their statements about household circumstances. U.S. citizens and some aliens who are admitted for permanent residency may qualify. Federal poverty guidelines are established by the Office of Management and Budget, and are updated annually by the Department of Health and Human Services.
The Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) has expanded a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) program to allow all students at those schools to receive free meal service. The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) allows a school district, a group of schools or a single school to serve free meals to everyone even if they do not qualify for the free or reduced-price lunch reimbursement. The program has expanded annually:
- SY 14-15: 15 charter schools/sites
- SY 15-16: 18 charter schools/sites, 7 DOE schools
- SY 16-17: 16 charter schools/sites, 30 DOE schools
- SY 17-18: 16 charter schools/sites, 52 DOE schools
- SY 18-19 & 19-20: 15 charter schools/sites, 52 DOE schools
- SY 20-21: 12 charter schools/sites, 61 DOE schools
Students who attend schools that are not in the program can apply for free or reduced-price lunch through the National School Lunch Program.
- Students: Access to free nutritious meals for all students, no stigma, and less time spent in cashier lines and more time to eat nutritious meals
- Parents/Administrators: No more worrying about individual student accounts and no collection of money
- School staff: Streamlined meal service operation and more time for students to consume their food