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AFSC first came to West Virginia in 1922 to work on child nutrition issues. Sadly, nearly 100 years later, this is still an issue in West Virginia and around the country. Fortunately, West Virginia is now a national leader on this front. According to the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), that state now leads the nation in school breakfast and lunch nutrition.
This is due to several factors, including leadership from the WV Department of Education’s Office of Child Nutrition and its executive director Rick Goff. The state encouraged counties to take advantage of alternative ways of providing meals, such as breakfast in the classroom, grab and go breakfasts, and breakfast after first period.
Also contributing to the expansion of free meals for kids is the federal Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), which allows school boards to provide free meals for all students regardless of income in schools in which 40 percent or more of students are directly certified to be low income. This removes stigma, saves schools paperwork and money, and improves child performance and well-being. CEP eliminates the paid, free and reduced lunch application process in such cases and is now available nationwide.
In 2013, the WV legislature passed the Feed to Achieve Act, which is designed to ultimately provide free nutritious breakfast and lunches to all students as a regular part of the school day. The AFSC WV Economic Justice Project and allies supported passage of the Feed to Achieve Act and has worked with allies as well as state and county officials to help implement the program and encourage more counties to take advantage of CEP. To that end, it has published and updated Food Matters, a guide to the state law and federal policies.
Although this report is focused on West Virginia, it contains information about the federal the Community Eligibility Program, which is now available nationwide.
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