(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 healthy eating, proper nutrition and regular physical activity result in students who have: (A) Increased standardized achievement test scores; (B) improved attendance; (C) reduced tardiness; (D) improved academic, behavioral and emotional functioning; and (E) improved nutrition, and for many students, the nutritious breakfast at school is essential.
(4) Schools that provide universal breakfast programs 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, and these positive attributes are furthered through comprehensive healthy schools policies that include quality nutrition, integrating physical activity during the school day, and teaching children about the importance of embracing a healthy active lifestyle.
(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 25 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 50 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 support for learning: 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, particularly when combined with comprehensive efforts that include regular physical activity and promote healthy eating habits, is associated with a lower body mass index, a lower probability of being overweight and a lower probability of obesity, all of which help prevent a range of chronic diseases including Type II Diabetes, high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.
(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.
(16) Public schools in this state and others are adopting a continuum of policies to implement low cost, effective programs that include physical activity, physical education, proper nutrition and the promotion of healthy eating habits, along with involvement by school staff, families and communities, and a variety of resources to assist schools in adopting and implementing these programs are easily accessible on the internet and through the Office of Healthy Schools in the West Virginia Department of Education.
(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 directs schools to make available and to promote the federally approved and subsidized meals to all pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade students, to make them readily available and to consider reducing or eliminating the cost to students if sufficient funds become available.
(c) The Legislature intends to provide a framework for the State Board of Education and the county boards of education to provide, as effectively and as efficiently as possible, a minimum of two nutritious 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 pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade school children in West Virginia.
(e) The Legislature encourages county boards to examine the options available for comprehensive policies and programs to improve student health and promote academic achievement and to establish a comprehensive policy on healthy schools that best meets the needs of their student population.
(f) It is not the intention of the Legislature to allow or encourage parents to abdicate their parental responsibility related to providing healthy, nutritious meals for their children. However, it is the intent of the Legislature that no child be denied nutritious meals.
(g) It is the intent of the Legislature that healthy nutritious school lunches be made available to all students in a manner which maximizes participation and minimizes stigma attached to participating low income students.
(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 allow for the provision of healthy, nutritious meals to all elementary school students, without cost to students, where schools find it practical to do so.
(b) The Feed to Achieve initiative will be phased in for all elementary schools as sufficient funds become available, through donations, contributions and payments made by individuals, communities, businesses, organizations and parents or guardians on behalf of students. 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, after school and summer nutrition programs 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.
(a) The Department of Education and each county board of education shall promptly establish a fund that is restricted solely for the receipt and expenditure of gifts, grants and bequests for the purposes of this article and may establish in lieu thereof a nonprofit foundation for this purpose. The purpose of the fund or nonprofit foundation is 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 fund or nonprofit foundation to assist county boards of education in counties whose fund or foundation lacks sufficient business, industry and individual contributors to fund the Feed to Achieve nutrition programs.
(b) Financial support for the fund or foundation may come from either public or private gifts, grants, contributions, bequests and endowments.
(c) Expenditures from the state or county funds or by the foundations 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 from the funds or by the foundations.
(e) Individuals or businesses that contribute to the funds or foundations 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 pre- kindergarten 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 fund or foundation 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.
Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2015 Regular Session
The WV Code Online is an unofficial copy of the annotated WV Code, provided as a convenience. It has NOT been edited for publication, and is not in any way official or authoritative.