Randy Yohe Published

Law Aims To Close W.Va.’s Food Insecurity Gap For Children

Students carry sack lunches at Elk Ridge Elementary School in Buckley, Wash. On Monday, USDA unveiled a new program that would feed millions of children over the summer, when many schools are closed.

A new initiative is designed to help close West Virginia’s food insecurity gap among children.

The hunger relief organization Feeding America says about one in five West Virginia children doesn’t have a consistent, reliable source of nutritious food.

Del. Chad Lovejoy, D-Cabell, said the gap hits children harder in some counties than others and can become severe away from the classroom.

“We have children, about one in five, who do not have a consistent, reliable source of nutritious food, particularly outside of the school system,” Lovejoy said. “There is hunger on weekends, summers, holidays, things like that. So that’s the gap.”

HB 3073 is the Emergency School Food Act. It sets up a statewide program to learn each county’s specific challenges and how they can better connect to the outside food sources available.

Lovejoy said centralizing the help needed to feed children will be a game changer

“We have counties that do this very well. And we have counties that don’t do it as well,” Lovejoy said. “And by centralizing the help, and developing toolkits at the state level, we’re going to be able to bring all the counties up to a kind of a base level, and then share best practices.”

Lovejoy said a crisis management plan in the act will provide innovative ways to deliver students food away from school – during a snow day or severe summer storms.

The program will be coordinated by West Virginia’s Office of Child Nutrition.