The Food Research & Action Center announced that for the fourth year in a row West Virginia is leading the nation in school breakfast participation.
Every county in West Virginia has a number of schools who are eligible for free meals, including breakfast and lunch.
Barbour County School Food Service Supervisor Ronda Jones says income restrictions can cause problems but the free meals are a great opportunity to relieve stress on students and families.
“I think it is just a wonderful opportunity for them. Even if you don’t qualify, a lot of times it’s the middle person where you are just right at the borderline and you can’t qualify but then it is a tremendous help when you can get it free. It saves time for the parents from packing lunches. It just saves everyone,” said Jones.
State Superintendent Dr. Steven Paine says, “Research shows that school breakfast leads to improved diet, reduced food insecurity, better test scores, improved student health, and fewer distractions in the classroom, especially for our most vulnerable students.”
“Regardless of your income, all students receive free breakfast, free lunch, and free dinner after school meals, if need be,” continued Jones.
For the 2018 school year, more than 50 percent of students in Barbour County qualified for free school meals.
Barbour County Schools not only serve free meals to all the county’s students, but one elementary school partners with local churches to offer weekend backpacks full of food to supplement the days without meals.
Belington Elementary School sends home backpacks as a way to help students who do not have access to food once they go home on the weekends.
“The weekend backpack program is sponsored by a local church. They deliver food on Thursday and we hand out on Friday. It benefits 26 students at Belington Elementary. These 26 students are excited every Friday to get these bags of food. It has really made a big difference on our 26 kids. And the excitement they have, you just know that it’s made their weekend,” said Belington Elementary School Principal Cindy Sigley.
Barbour County School administrators and community members are working hard to fight hunger within the county and are looking forward to doing more in the future.