The Times West Virginian

Opinion

August 16, 2013

Free breakfast, lunch program will be boost for county students

As adults, hectic workdays often mean grab-and-go breakfasts, if there’s any time at all to grab. Sometimes lunches are skipped to catch up on work or to make the next meeting. If you’re lucky, a late-afternoon trip to the vending machine will mean a bag of chips or crackers to stave off hunger.

At the end of the day, that can mean you’ve had very little other than coffee and a greasy bag of carbs to fuel your day. And that certainly doesn’t make for productive workers who are low on energy and distracted by hunger.

But that’s something we do to ourselves — not planning far enough in advance or taking the time to pack healthy lunches or energy-boosting snacks.

Imagine what a hungry child goes through during a long school day. Imagine a child who eats empty calories for breakfast or lunch that offer only a little sugar rush and then a larger crash of energy as the day progresses.

We’re pleased that children at three of the county’s elementary schools won’t be in that situation as a pilot program expands.

With the expansion of the Community Eligibility Option program, students at Watson, East Park and Monongah elementary schools will have the opportunity to receive free meals. Through the program, breakfast and lunch are provided to all students at the participating schools free of charge.

According to Superintendent of Schools Gary Price, families that qualify for free lunches often qualify for the entire year, but those who qualify for reduced lunches may bounce back and forth. Price said that just because families don’t qualify for free or reduced lunches doesn’t mean they have ample monetary resources.

And that may mean parents can provide a cold lunch, but it may lack the nutritional value that hot lunch at the school has.

“Paying for those lunches takes a sig­nificant chunk out of their budget,” Price said. “We want to offset that cost the best we can by going into the communities where it’s feasible and providing those breakfasts and lunches free of charge to the parents.”

There are a few benefits. Hunger is a major disruption to the learning process. A hungry child lacks energy and motivation and is easily agitated. Providing two healthy, nutritious meals per school day will hopefully eliminate that problem.

The second benefit could certainly be introducing children to new and healthy foods they might not try at home.

We know there has been a lot of discussion about the new dietary considerations for the school lunch menus, but in a perfect world, the caloric restrictions and the healthier alternatives are actually the way children in America should be eating. If they eat these kinds of food in a school setting, they might be encouraged to eat them at home and appreciate nutritious foods.

We know this pilot project is costing the school system extra money, but we believe the end result will be happier, healthier kids who are more successful in school and in life. And that is priceless.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • COLUMN: Freedom of Information — if you can pay

    Several years ago, I made a Freedom of Information request to a local government agency. Within the five business days, as required by law, a packet of information was delivered to the office. I expected a bill, as most government offices have a charge that ranges from 25 cents to $1.25 per page for copies of the documents we request.

    April 20, 2014

  • The reassuring spirit of Easter: One of new hope and beginnings

    During the sub-zero and snow-filled months of winter, we maintained a spirit of hope that spring was on the way. It has now become a reality as all nature stretches and yawns and awakens once more to a new beginning. The fragrance of spring awakens our waiting nostrils, the budding beauty of new life brightens our eyes, and the reassuring idea of renewal stimulates our minds.

    April 20, 2014

  • Unsung heroes handling calls in emergencies are appreciated

    Thankfully, we live in a community where help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, just by dialing three numbers — 9-1-1.
    During this week, which is recognized as National Public Safety Tele-Communicator’s Week nationwide, we need to remember that on the other end of that line are the men and women here in this county who are always there in case of accident, crimes, medical emergencies and any other catastrophic event.

    April 18, 2014

  • Message to ‘buckle up and park the phone’ is saving lives

    A figure that we haven’t seen that much in recent years is the highway death toll for a given period.
    Is the death toll up, down or just about the same as it was?
    The West Virginia Southern Regional Highway Safety Program has announced there were 325 highway fatalities in 2013, the second-lowest number on record.

    April 17, 2014

  • State native Burwell can ‘deliver results’ as Health and Human Services secretary

    Sylvia Mathews Burwell might not be a name with which most people are immediately familiar.
    For the past year, she has run the budget office under President Barack Obama.
    Prior to that, she served as president of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Development Program and later the Wal-Mart Foundation.

    April 16, 2014

  • Marion scores well in recent health report but could do better

    When it comes to area-wide studies, especially on health, there’s usually good news and bad news.
    So was the recent report on the health of America’s counties released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently. The nationwide county study evaluated health outcomes and health factors, and ranked counties accordingly.

    April 13, 2014

  • COLUMN: ‘Instant’ news not always reliable

    Instant.
    That little word has a pretty big meaning. With origins that date back to the 15th century, it means urgent, current, immediate.
    But think about how that word has developed over the past few decades.
    Instant pudding. Instead of slaving over a hot stove for a few minutes, you can now pour cold milk and with a bit of stirring, instant pudding!

    April 13, 2014

  • Decision to be an organ donor can save lives

    Chelsea Clair watched as her father died waiting for a bone marrow transplant.
    So when she met Kyle Froelich at a car show in 2009 and heard about his struggles to find a kidney that would match his unique needs, she never hesitated to offer hers to the man she just met.

    April 11, 2014

  • Volunteers continue to have priceless impact on community

    Chances are, you know someone who volunteers. Perhaps you’re a volunteer yourself.
    Marion County is full of volunteers.
    They read to our youth.
    They assist nonprofit agencies.
    They serve on boards and committees.
    And in 2013, they spent a day picking up nearly 10 tons of garbage that had been tossed out on public property around Marion County.

    April 10, 2014

  • Proposed school calendar lives up to letter and spirit of law

    West Virginia state law requires that students be in a classroom for 180 days.

    April 9, 2014

Featured Ads
NDN Politics
House Ads