The head of the School Food Services Branch at Hawaii’s Department of Education stepped down from his role last week, a DOE spokesman confirmed Thursday, adding he expects “no impacts“ to schools’ grab-and-go meal distribution from the abrupt exit.

As program administrator of the food service branch, Albert Scales oversaw the division that handles the distribution of school breakfast and lunches across all 257 DOE campuses statewide.

He also oversaw programs like Aina Pono, which works to increase the presence of local food ingredients in school meals through partnerships with community organizations and local farmers.

Ala Wai Elementary school students enjoy beefstew during lunch.

Students at an Oahu elementary school eat a lunch of beef stew and brown rice in this October 2017 photo.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Jeremy Koki from the Auxiliary Services Branch of the DOE Office of Facilities and Operations will temporarily step into the program administrator role, DOE spokesman Derek Inoshita said. He didn’t give a reason for Scales’ departure.

The DOE food services branch has lost some key personnel in the last several months.

Dexter Kishida, the former Farm to School coordinator, left in August to work for the City and County of Honolulu as Food Security and Sustainability Program Manager, though he has since moved to the Office of Economic Revitalization. At the DOE, Kishida had been in charge of expanding initiatives like a DOE mobile food truck that delivers meals to hungry kids over the summer.

A dietician at the school food services branch, Derek Vidinha, also left his role last week and is now working within another DOE division, as a program specialist with Hawaii Child Nutrition Programs.

With many DOE students doing distance learning this year due to the pandemic, most meals this school year have been “grab and go” at 203 DOE sites statewide, available to anyone 18 and under.

“No impacts to Grab-and-Go meal distribution are expected due to Albert’s departure,” Inoshita said Thursday in an email, adding that 440,182 breakfasts and 528,249 lunches have been served since the fall semester started on Aug. 17.

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