Senator John Unger, in collaboration with the West Virginia Department of Education, created the Feed to Achieve Act as a result of a conversation with a young student.
Pocahontas County Schools Food Services Director Lisa Dennison said Unger asked a student what the government could do to improve the school system and the student said, “make sure I have enough food at lunch so that I don’t eat my family’s food when I get home, so there will be enough.”
Considering the number of students in the state who feel the same as this young man, Unger and the state education department created the Feed to Achieve Act which gives schools three options for serving breakfast – and serving every child.
“There’s breakfast in the classroom, breakfast after first [period] or grab-and-go as options, if you can’t feed the kids in the cafeteria,” Dennison said.
At Marlinton Elementary School, the best option was breakfast in the classroom. Each morning, the cooks fix containers with meals, usually consisting of cereal, milk, juice and fruit or yogurt, and deliver them to each classroom.
Breakfast has been in the classroom for about a month now and kinks are still being worked out, but for the most part, it has been positive.
“We have more than doubled our number of students participating in breakfast,” Dennison said. “Before, students had the option to go to the cafeteria or go to the gym to play and visit. They chose the gym most of the time.”
Teachers have yet to see a change in grades, but they do see that the students are able to spend more time socializing before class begins.
While most classrooms serve the students at their desks, first grade teacher Becky Spencer uses a round table and small rectangular table to give the students a “family dinner” atmosphere for their meal.
Teacher Barbara Beard said she has noticed that students don’t complain as much about being hungry and ask her “When is lunch?”
“The beautiful things that I have seen is the relationship that the teachers get to have,” Dennison said. “They get to see the kids and see what they like and what they don’t like. Our main goal is to feed the children to give them the opportunity to focus on their school lessons without thinking about being hungry.”
Green Bank Elementary-Middle School and Hillsboro Elementary School have breakfast in the classroom, Marlinton Middle School serves breakfast after first period and Pocahontas County High School opted for grab-and-go.
Suzanne Stewart may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org