Next month when school starts, some Randolph County parents will see their wallets get a little fatter. Last week, the Board of Education decided to participate in the Community Eligibility Option that will provide free breakfasts and lunches to all students in most of the county schools.
The program is a result of the Health, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, and funding is provided by the United States Department of Agriculture. West Virginia is among states selected to participate in the second wave of pilot programs in which each county school system has the choice of whether to participate for the 2012-2013 school year. Next year, the option will be open all schools in the nation.
There are eligibility requirements. If one school has more than 40 percent of students who qualify as low income, then the whole school eats for free. In Randolph County, all of the elementary schools, Pickens and Harman schools and the Alternative Learning Center fall within those guidelines.
The Health, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 is the same piece of legislation that outlines the types of food choices that can be offered in schools. Healthful and more nutritious meals are a mainstay under this act, and that's a good thing for our youth. Learning better food choices can help fight childhood obesity, and hopefully lead to healthier adults.
Yes, parents will save money - an estimate of $450 per year, school officials say. The cost though isn't the pinnacle of this program.
What's most important also is sad to note. For some students, these may be either the only meals or at least the best balanced meals of their day. We're fortunate that the school system has decided to take advantage of this opportunity.