Leaders Visit Charleston School's Free Lunch Program

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Every elementary and some middle school students in Kanawha County will have the opportunity to eat breakfast and lunch this year at no cost.

West Virginia is one of seven states to participate in the USDA's Community Eligibility Option. The grant will provide nearly 90,000 students the opportunity to eat free healthy meals.

School leaders hope this will help improve child nutrition options for students.

Audrey Rowe, administrator for the USDA Food and Nutrition Service, and West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Jorea Marple visited Piedmont Elementary on Tuesday.

The year round school was one of the first to benefit from the grant.

“It’s our opportunity and responsibility to ensure that no child in West Virginia goes hungry during the summer months just because most schools are closed,” Rowe said. Our children need to maintain a consistent healthy diet that supports growth and learning.”

A small group of educators will also stop by the summer food service site at Amandaville Court housing complex in St. Albans to see how the program is going there.

According to a news release, West Virginia plans to expand its Universal Free Meals pilot from 73 schools in eight counties to 283 schools in 35 high need counties for the 2012-2013 school year.

“Research consistently shows that children who eat a well-balanced breakfast and lunch perform better on standardized tests, have higher math scores and lower rates of absenteeism and tardiness,” Marple. “It’s unfortunate that many children in our state rely on school meals and summer feeding programs for their main nutrition. These programs are vital to their well-being.”

Again, this program will only affect elementary school children and some of county middle school students in Kanawha County.

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