Senate Bill No. 663
(By Senators Unger, Edgell, Cookman, Laird, Miller, Palumbo, Plymale, Prezioso, Stollings, M. Hall and Barnes)
[Originating in the Select Committee on Children and Poverty; reported March 27, 2013.]
A BILL to repeal §18-5-37 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended; and to amend said code by adding thereto a new article, designated §18-5D-1, §18-5D-2 ,§18-5D-3 and §18-5D-4, all relating to improving the nutrition and health of West Virginia’s children; creating the West Virginia Feed to Achieve Act; providing legislative findings and intent; phasing in implementation of the West Virginia Feed to Achieve Act; requiring nutritious breakfast and lunch be made available to all students; requiring all schools to adopt delivery systems, strategies and methods to maximize participation by students; providing for record keeping and reporting; authorizing continuation or termination of nutrition programs under certain conditions; providing that classroom teachers may not be required to operate a breakfast program as part of their regular duties; establishing nonprofit foundations or funds to provide moneys for school nutrition programs; providing for acceptance of private contributions; authorizing expenditures of private funds to draw down maximum federal funds for child nutrition; authorizing certain expenditures; prohibiting use of private funds for administrative or personnel expenses; authorizing partnerships with federal and state agencies and public and private organizations to expand options for providing healthy, nutritious food to children; encouraging healthy food initiatives such as community gardens and farm-to-school programs; and requiring an annual audit of the private funds.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That §18-5-37 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be repealed; and that said code be amended by adding thereto a new article, designated §18-5D-1, §18-5D-2, §18-5D-3 and §18-5D-4, all to read as follows:
ARTICLE 5D. West Virginia Feed to Achieve Act.
§18-5D-1. Short title.
This act shall be known and may be cited as the West Virginia Feed to Achieve Act.
§18-5D-2. Legislative findings; intent.
(a) The Legislature finds and declares that:
(1) Every child in school needs to have nutritious meals in order to achieve his or her potential. Providing the best schools and teachers alone does not ensure a child is mentally present and able to learn. A growing body of research establishes that a hungry child is less able to process the information provided and is less likely to be attentive to the lessons being taught.
(2) President Harry S. Truman began the national school lunch program in 1946 as a measure of national security to safeguard the health and well being of the nation’s children and to encourage the domestic consumption of nutritious agricultural commodities and other food. Last year in West Virginia, 32.3 million school lunches were served to students in public schools.
(3) Research shows that students who eat breakfast at school have: (A) Increased standardized achievement test scores; (B) improved attendance; (C) reduced tardiness; (D) improved academic, behavioral and emotional functioning; and (E) improved nutrition.
(4) Schools that provide universal breakfast in the classroom also report: (A) Decreases in discipline and psychological problems; (B) decreases in visits to school nurses; (C) decreases in tardiness; (D) increases in student attentiveness; (E) increases in attendance; and (F) improved learning environments.
(5) An effective school breakfast program is not an interruption of the school day; it is an integral and vital part of the school day.
(6) The participation rate for the school breakfast program varies greatly among our counties. Those counties which have made a determined effort to increase participation by offering programs to best meet student needs, such as grab-and-go breakfasts, providing breakfast in the classroom or providing breakfast after first period, are feeding significantly higher percentages of their students.
(7) The West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy reports that in 2011 more than twenty-five percent of the children in West Virginia lived in homes with a household income below the federal poverty line, which is $23,050 for a family of four. About fifty percent of West Virginia children live in homes with a household income below twice the federal poverty level, $46,100 for a family of four, which is approximately the level of the Work Force West Virginia self-sufficiency standard.
(8) The majority of students from families below the self-sufficiency standard are currently not eating breakfast at school. On the average school day during the 2011-2012 school year, less than half of the West Virginia students eligible for a federally funded free breakfast actually received one. On that same average day, only about one third of the students eligible to receive a reduced-price breakfast actually received one.
(9) In order to maximize each child’s potential to learn and develop, the Legislature, schools and communities must partner to provide the most basic learning tool: nutritious meals.
(10) In order to maximize student participation in school nutrition programs and to reduce the secondary adverse impacts of poverty, it is important that schools provide nutritious meals without a risk to students of being stigmatized as poor.
(11) High rates of childhood hunger and childhood obesity occur simultaneously because children are not receiving healthy, nutritious food. According to the Data Resource Center for Child and Adolescent Health and others, in 2008 West Virginia ranked 44 in overall prevalence of childhood obesity, with 35.5 percent of children considered either overweight or obese.
(12) According to the 2008 Pediatric Nutrition Surveillance System, which assesses weight status of children from low-income families participating in the Women Infants and Children program, 28.3 percent of low-income children age 2-5 are overweight or obese in West Virginia.
(13) The Food Research and Action Center has found that providing a balanced school breakfast may protect against childhood obesity. School breakfast participation is associated with a lower body mass index, lower probability of being overweight and lower probability of obesity.
(14) Participation in federally funded meals in child care, preschool, school or summer settings is associated with a lower body mass index among young, low-income children.
(15) Private and nonprofit sectors have shown a willingness to commit significant resources to addressing hunger in America, leveraging federal programs and enlisting their employees, customers and clients to improve the availability and accessibility of affordable, healthy food for those in need of assistance.
(b) In order to maximize the economies of scale and to access all available federal funds to support our school nutrition programs, the Feed to Achieve initiative requires free meals to be provided to all prekindergarten through twelfth grade students, as funds becomes available.
(c) The Legislature intends to provide a framework for the State Board of Education and the county boards of education to provide a minimum of two nutritious, free meals each school day to all students.
(d) The Legislature intends for the state and county boards of education to enter into public-private partnerships to eventually provide free nutritious meals for all prekindergarten through twelfth grade school children in West Virginia.
§18-5D-3. School nutrition programs.
(a) Each county board of education shall establish and operate school nutrition programs under which, at a minimum, a nutritious breakfast and lunch are made effectively available to all students enrolled in the schools of the county in accordance with the State Board of Education standards. The standards shall include guidelines for determining the eligibility of students for paid, free and reduced meals. The standards shall also establish procedures and guidelines for the Feed to Achieve initiative to provide free meals to all elementary school students.
(b) The Feed to Achieve initiative will be phased in for all elementary schools as sufficient funds become available. Nothing in this article prohibits any school from providing free meals to all of its students.
(c) Each county board of education shall:
(1) Require all schools to adopt a delivery system approved by the State Office of Child Nutrition, no later than the 2015 school year, that ensures all students are given an adequate opportunity to eat breakfast. These approved systems shall include, but are not limited to, grab-and-go breakfasts, breakfast in the classroom or breakfast after first period; and
(2) collaborate with the State Office of Child Nutrition to develop strategies and methods to increase the percentage of children participating in the school breakfast and lunch nutrition programs.
(d) In addition to other statistics, the county boards of education, in consultation with the State Office of Child Nutrition, shall determine the number of children in each school who are participating in each meal offered by the school; the number of children who are not eating each meal offered by the school; and the total daily attendance.
(e) The State Office of Child Nutrition shall report to the Joint Committee on Government and Finance, the Select Committee on Children and Poverty and the Legislative Oversight Commission on Education Accountability on or before December 31, 2015, and each year thereafter, on the impacts of the Feed to Achieve Act and any recommendations for legislation.
(f) County boards of education may utilize the nonprofit funds or foundations established in section four of this article or other available funds to offset the costs of providing free meals to elementary students.
(g) If at any time federal financial appropriations to this state for school nutrition programs are terminated, county boards of education are hereby authorized, but not required, to continue the programs at their own expense.
(h) Classroom teachers may not be required to participate in the operation of the school breakfast program as part of their regular duties.
§18-5D-4. Creating public-private partnerships; creating nonprofit foundation or fund; audit.
(a) The Department of Education and each county board of education shall promptly establish a nonprofit foundation or fund to provide supplemental or matching funds to increase participation in the nutrition programs in the Feed to Achieve initiative set forth in subsection (c) of this section. The Department of Education shall utilize its foundation or fund to assist county boards of education in counties whose foundation or fund lacks sufficient business, industry and individual contributors to fund the Feed to Achieve nutrition programs.
(b) Financial support for the foundation or fund may come from either public or private gifts, grants, contributions, bequests and endowments.
(c) Expenditures by the state or county foundations or from the funds shall be used for provision of food to students through any of the programs or initiatives approved by the Office of Child Nutrition, including the following programs: School Breakfast Program, National School Lunch Program, the Summer Food Service Program, the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, the Child and Adult Care Food Program, the farm-to-school initiative and community gardens. Expenditures may also be made for initiatives developed with the Department of Health and Human Resources and public-private partnerships to provide outreach and nutritional meals when students are not in school.
(d) No administrative expenses or personnel expenses for any of the state departments implementing this act, the State Board of Education, any county board of education, school or program may be paid by the foundation or from the fund.
(e) Individuals or businesses that contribute to the foundation or fund may specify schools or nutrition programs for which the contribution is to be used.
(f) The Department of Education and county boards of education may establish public-private partnerships to enhance current or advance additional nutrition programs that provide nutritious food for children to take home for weekend meals.
(g) The Department of Education and county boards of education shall form or expand existing partnerships with the federal and state departments of agriculture, Department of Health and Human Resources, local master gardeners, county extension agents or other experts in the field of agriculture or gardening to develop community gardens, farm-to-school programs and other such programs that teach students how to grow and produce healthy food and provide healthy food to the students.
(h) The Department of Education shall collaborate with the Department of Health and Human Resources to develop effective strategies and programs such as after-school nutrition outreach and programs that improve the healthy lifestyle of all students in prekindergarten through twelfth grade. The Department of Health and Human Resources may propose rules for promulgation in accordance with the provisions of article three, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code to effectuate any programs so developed.
(i) All moneys contributed to a foundation or fund established pursuant to this section and all expenditures made therefrom shall be audited as part of the annual independent audit of the State Board of Education and the county boards of education.