February 10, 2021

Charleston, W.Va. – West Virginia is once again the top-performing state in the nation for school breakfast participation. Today’s announcement is a part of the annual Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) Breakfast Scorecard. This year marks the seventh consecutive year in which the Mountain State earned this distinction. Additionally, West Virginia lawmakers were noted for supporting legislation that builds stronger school breakfast programs. The West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) works closely with county nutrition programs to deliver high-quality meals to children throughout the state.

According the FRAC’s School Breakfast Scorecard, the state is ranked No. 1 in participation of low-income students in the national School Breakfast Program. During the 2019-20 school year, 84.1 low-income students participated in school breakfasts for every 100 that participated in school lunch, an increase over last year’s number of 83. FRAC sets a goal of reaching 70 low-income students participating in school breakfast for every 100 in school lunch, and West Virginia and Vermont were the only states to surpass that national benchmark.  

West Virginia was one of four states that has passed and implemented legislation that requires schools to offer breakfast at no charge to all students in high-poverty schools.

“Our state’s child nutrition efforts remain a high priority because we understand the important role it plays in child development and achievement,” said State Superintendent of Schools W. Clayton Burch. “We are committed to these efforts because the vulnerable populations we serve rely on the nutritious meals our schools provide. Without the school breakfast and lunch programs, too many of our children would suffer from drastic food insecurities, and that is something we must prevent.”

Counties work closely with the WVDE to offer Grab-N-Go Breakfast, Breakfast in the Classroom and Breakfast After First Period programs that allow children convenient access to the nutrition early in the day without the stigma barriers that may prevent children from participating. These, along with other innovative measures such as the Community Eligibility Provision offering free breakfast and lunch to all students in schools that are eligible, are making strides to meet the nutritional needs of students while reducing overall administrative work and escalating unpaid meal fees.

“This year more than ever, our families are relying on the meals that schools provide, during times of in-person and remote learning,” Superintendent Burch said. “The benefit of child nutrition programs cannot be overstated, and we will continue to not only support them, but work to increase participation throughout our state.”

Although the school year was interrupted by COVID-19, on the average school day in the 2019-20 (September to February) school year, the School Breakfast Program served 12.6 million low-income children across the country, according to the most recent FRAC data. This reflects an increase of approximately 186,000 additional children compared to the same time period the previous year. The increase is attributed to more schools offering school breakfast at no charge to students, and better implementation of school breakfast strategies and operations such as allowing meals to be served in the classroom.

Over the course of the pandemic in West Virginia, more than 34,000,000 meals were provided to children to ensure they received uninterrupted nutrition provisions regardless of their mode of learning. This extended throughout the summer months in all counties across the state.

For more information, contact Christy Day, Office of Communications, at Christy.Day@k12.wv.us or 304-558-2699.

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About the School Breakfast Scorecard

The School Breakfast Scorecard measures free and reduced-price school breakfast participation on an average school day to determine how many low-income students school breakfast is reaching nationally and, in each state, using the ratio to free and reduced-price school lunch participation as a benchmark. Because there is broad participation in the National School Lunch Program by low-income students across the states, it is a useful comparison by which to measure how many students could and should be benefiting from school breakfast each school day. To learn more, visit  https://frac.org/research/resource-library/breakfastscorecard2021.