CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Schools across West Virginia are celebrating National School Lunch Week this week with the theme, “School Lunch – What’s Cooking?”
Across the United States more than 500 billion school lunches are served each year through the National School Lunch Program. In West Virginia, where nearly 150,000 children are considered needy and qualify for free and reduced-priced meals, public schools served 14.8 million breakfasts and 32.3 million lunches last year.
“Research and commonsense proves time and time again that there is a significant link between student health and learning,” said West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Jorea Marple. “A well-fed child isn’t distracted by hunger and can more easily concentrate on learning.”
Schools are marking the week in different ways. In Tyler County, parents are invited to come to school and share a healthy school-prepared meal with their children. To accommodate the extra meals, each grade level has been assigned a different day of the week so that all parents don’t arrive on the same day.
Students in Brooke County Schools can win a stuffed bear for eating school lunch this week. Other schools are celebrating with special menus and by promoting healthy eating.
West Virginia has established itself as a national leader in child nutrition and wellness, becoming an early adopter of many requirements now included in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. The new federal law calls for 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.
The West Virginia Board of Education became a trailblazer in 2008 by adopting one of the most progressive school nutrition policies in the nation. Policy 4321.1, Standards for School Nutrition set nutrition standards for food and beverages sold served or distributed in school. The Centers for Disease Control has posted the policy on its Center for Excellence website as an example for other schools to duplicate.
For recipes and more information visit www.TrayTalk.org, or contact the Office of Child Nutrition at (304) 558-2708 or the Office of Communications at (304) 558-2699.