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West Virginia Leads the Nation in Feeding Students Breakfast and Lunch

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February 13, 2015

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - West Virginia is at the head of the table when it comes to feeding students breakfast according to the recently released 2015 Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) Breakfast Scorecard. The report analyzes school breakfast participation among low-income children nationally and in each state and the District of Columbia, and discusses effective federal, state and local strategies for increasing participation in the program. The scorecard notes that West Virginia serves more hungry students breakfast and lunch than any other state.

"Research shows that students have improved nutrition; increased standardized achievement test scores; improved attendance; and, improved academic, behavioral and emotional functioning when they eat school breakfast," said Gayle Manchin, West Virginia Board of Education president. "Many families living in, or on the edge of, poverty cannot afford to provide nutritious meals at home every day. I am proud that our school system can fill this crucial need."

During the past few years, the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) Office of Child Nutrition has been focused on increasing school breakfast participation. In 2014, West Virginia served 20.1 million public school breakfasts, feeding an average of 117,000 students daily.

"A key metric being measured as part of the One Voice, One Focus vision plan for educational improvements in West Virginia schools is increasing the graduation rate," said West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Michael Martirano. "This goal will only be possible if students are attending school, and are well fed and ready to learn. I believe that part of our success is that our state school breakfast and lunch programs are not viewed as an interruption to the school day, but rather, an integral and vital part of the education process."

During the past several years, many West Virginia schools have implemented innovative breakfast strategies such as Grab-N-Go Breakfast, Breakfast in the Classroom, Breakfast after First, or a combination of the three. Many of these schools have doubled their breakfast participation rates, dramatically increasing federal reimbursements and improving food service operations.

Additionally, West Virginia has strong participation in the Community Eligibility Provision offered by the federal government. Fifty-five percent of all schools in West Virginia serve breakfast and lunch to ALL students with no additional charge.

According to the 2015 Breakfast Scorecard, the District of Columbia, New Mexico and West Virginia had the highest ratio of low-income students participating in school breakfast compared to school lunch. West Virginia ranking No.1. Also noted in the scorecard, New Jersey and West Virginia saw the nation’s greatest rise in the percentage of low-income children participating in school breakfast last year, with 12.9 percent and 11.2 percent increases, respectively, compared to school year 2012-2013.

To view the full FRAC Breakfast Scorecard, visit http://frac.org/ or contact Liza Cordeiro in the WVDE Communication Office at 304-558-2699.

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