The counties were recognized Friday, July 27, during an awards luncheon at the West Virginia Cultural Center.
Hardy County Schools was honored with the School Meals Initiative Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions of child nutrition directors who manage effective programs that provide healthful, appetizing and nutritious meals to students.
Boone, Clay and Wyoming counties received the Breakfast Participation Award, which recognizes school food service programs that improve academic performance, decrease absenteeism and foster good health through outstanding breakfast participation.
The Lunch Participation Award, which recognizes school food service programs that achieve outstanding lunch participation, went to Lewis, Mineral and Monongalia counties. Such programs contribute to the development of healthy eating habits by teaching and motivating students to make food choices that enhance their energy, growth and academic potential.
Grant, Lewis and Pendleton counties were honored with the Local Wellness Policy Award. The honor recognizes county board of education that work with key community stakeholders to contribute to student health, education and well being through innovative local wellness policies.
“Countless research shows children with poor nutrition score lower on vocabulary, reading, math and general knowledge tests,” said State Superintendent of Schools Steve Paine. “Good nutrition is paramount for children to be alert and ready to learn during the school day.”
Strong nutrition and wellness programs are especially important in a state like West Virginia, where one in three children born today will likely develop diabetes by the time they grow up. The state is consistently among the top three states for obesity with about a third of its residents considered obese and more considered overweight, according to the state Bureau of Public Health.
Extra weight can lead to arthritis, some cancers, diabetes, high blood pressure and other health problems.
“The state board wants to encourage schools to go as far as they can to get kids to eat healthy and exercise,” said board member Barbara Fish. “Schools can really make a key difference in student health and wellness.”