The Fayette Tribune, Oak Hill, W.Va.

July 29, 2013

County adopts new option to further free meal project


— Students in 13 Fayette County schools will have the opportunity to eat breakfast, lunch and a snack at school at no cost, according to a press release from the office of David Seay, child nutrition director. The county is participating in a program called the Community Eligibility Option (CEO).

“Feeding a child is paramount to student achievement,” said West Virginia Superintendent of Schools James Phares. “We know that countless children in our state go to school each day hungry making it impossible for them to focus on school work. I applaud Fayette County Schools for deciding to participate in the CEO.”

The following schools qualified and have been enrolled in the CEO program:

- Ansted Elementary School

- Ansted Middle School

- Collins Middle School

- Divide Elementary School

- Fayetteville Elementary School

- Gauley Bridge Elementary School

- Gatewood Elementary School

- Meadow Bridge Elementary School

- Mount Hope Elementary School

- New River Elementary School

- Rosedale Elementary School

- Valley Elementary School

- Valley High School

All of the elementary and middle schools have been enrolled in the program and one high school.

“It is important that schools provide and promote proper nutrition,” said Fayette County Superintendent of Schools Keith Butcher. “Fayette County’s participation in the Community Eligibility Option allows us to have an even greater impact on the growth and development of our students.”

Throughout the state, 38 of 52 eligible county school systems have decided to participate in the CEO. Approximately 332 schools will participate reaching nearly 110,000 public school students.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently released data reporting high levels of food insecurity and hunger across the country. In West Virginia, nearly 14 percent of residents live in food insecure households and more than 88,500 children live below the poverty line.

The CEO was enacted as a result of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act and provides universal meal service to children in high poverty areas. This is the second year for the option. The CEO is an alternative to collecting, approving and verifying household eligibility applications for free and reduced price eligible students in high poverty Local Education Agencies (LEA). If at least 40 percent of a school’s students are directly certified for free meal benefits, the entire school qualifies for the option.

Families in the 13 participating schools will not have to fill out the meal applications. However, all families in the four high schools that did not qualify will have to fill those out. This can be accomplished on line at the website www.wvschoolmeals.net or with a paper application from the school.

Participation in the CEO program will allow Fayette County to feed 90 percent of its students free. Since almost 65 percent of the students in the four schools that are not participating in the CEO are eligible to receive meals free if they will just apply.

“We are not just concerned with providing everyone a meal, but we want those meals to be highly nutritious,” Seay said. “We are making an effort to purchase local Fayette County farm products. We provide a salad or a salad bar at every lunch meal.  Fresh fruit is available at both breakfast and lunch.  We are trying to cook more items from scratch and use less processed food. Many schools have fresh fruit available throughout the day. We have four elementary schools providing a fresh fruit snack three or four days a week under the fresh fruit and vegetable program.”

For more, please contact Seay at 304-574-1176, ext. 2136, or via e-mail at dseay@access.k12.wv.us.