CHARLESTON, WV (WOAY) – Gov. Jim Justice issued a proclamation today, officially designating March 2-6, 2020 as National School Breakfast Week in West Virginia. The Governor made the proclamation in front of several education leaders and students from across the state.
The proclamation comes just after The Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) announced that for the sixth year in a row, West Virginia is the top performing state in the nation for school breakfast participation.
“I’ve always said that our children are our greatest treasure in West Virginia,” Gov. Justice said. “Because of that, we need to always work to make sure they have everything they need to be successful, and that often means making sure they are well-nourished.
“I congratulate everyone involved in our school breakfast program for everything they do. Our school service personnel deserve our endless gratitude too for taking care of our students and making sure they have meals every school day.”
West Virginia’s School Breakfast Program serves an average of more than 3 million breakfasts across the state each month to students at more than 700 locations. According to FRAC’s School Breakfast Scorecard, the state is ranked number one in participation of low-income students in the national School Breakfast Program.
The West Virginia Department of Education’s (WVDE) Child Nutrition Program supports counties’ Grab-N-Go Breakfast, Breakfast in the Classroom and Breakfast After First Period programs to meet the needs of their students. The WVDE continues to explore avenues to address childhood nutrition through policy and practice.
“We have made it a priority to ensure students receive a nutritious, balanced breakfast to kick-start their school day,” said West Virginia Superintendent of Schools W. Clayton Burch. “Our breakfast programs serve a purpose beyond just convenience; having well-fed children in our classrooms cuts down on disruptive behaviors and increases student performance. I am a proud of the work this program continues to do for our students.”
On the average school day in the 2018-19 school year, the School Breakfast Program served 12.4 million low-income children across the country, according to the most recent FRAC data. Nationally, 57.5 students participated in the School Breakfast Program per 100 that participated in the School Lunch Program.
The WVDE’s childhood nutrition efforts mean that each day thousands of students have access to food that otherwise would not. Many schools now participate in the At-Risk Supper Program that offers a third meal to students each weekday as well as backpack programs for students facing food insecurity on the weekends and during school breaks.
Continued support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as well as the West Virginia Board of Education (WVBE) has allowed for creative approaches to addressing childhood hunger. The USDA’s advocacy for Farm-to-School programs has paved the way for sustainable food sources close to home, and last year the WVBE passed an update to the Shared Table Initiative following the passage of HB 4487 in 2018, making it easier for schools to distribute unused food to students.