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W.Va. Receives Federal Grant for Focus on Healthy Meals

September 18, 2012

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia is among 19 states and territories chosen to share a $5.2 million federal nutrition grant for progressive efforts encouraging healthy eating and physical activity in its schools.

West Virginia will receive $346,515 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture over the next two years to support Team Nutrition goals. Those goals include providing training and technical assistance to child nutrition foodservice professionals to provide nutritious meals that appeal to children; offering fun and interactive nutrition education for children, teachers, parents and others; and building school and community support for creating healthy school environments that are conducive to healthy eating and physical activity.

“Experience and research consistently shows that children who are healthy and well nourished, perform better on standardized tests, have higher math scores and lower rates of absenteeism and tardiness,” said state Superintendent Jorea Marple. “Children are beginning to get the message about good health but we can and must do better. This grant will allow us to continue the good work we are doing in West Virginia to improve student health and wellness.”

Healthier school meals are a key component of the federal Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which was championed by first lady Michelle Obama as part of her Let's Move! campaign and signed into law by President Obama. The Team Nutrition grant are funded to assist schools in meeting the new school meal requirements under the act and to promote healthier school environments.

West Virginia is ahead of many other states in its efforts to provide healthy meals and improve physical activity in its schools as an early adopter of many requirements in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. The new federal law calls both fruits and vegetables to be offered every day; increases whole grain-rich foods; limits milk offerings to fat-free or low-fat; restricts calories and portions based on children’s ages; and reduces saturated fat, trans fats and sodium. West Virginia has taken steps to incorporate those guidelines and other health and wellness standards since 1994.

"When we serve our children healthy school meals, we're making a critical investment in their academic performance, their physical health and their future," said U.S. Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan. "Providing nutrition education resources, extending training and technical assistance to foodservice professionals, and building community support helps ensure that every child in America has a chance to succeed."

Others receiving Team Nutrition awards are Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, North Dakota, Ohio, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin.

For more information, contact the Office of Communication at 304-558-2699.

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