The state legislature completed action Saturday on the Feed to Achieve Act. The state Senate approved the changes the House of Delegates made to the bill and sent it to the governor.

The bill’s chief sponsor, Sen. John Unger, told fellow senators Sat. the goal to provide meals for all school children is not a handout but an attempt to improve economic development.

“It is economic development,” Unger said. “It allows funds to be utilized to go into the local markets and buy produce from local farmers and use that produce for the purpose of nutrition in the schools.”

The bill sets up a framework for county school boards and community groups to feed all students. It would allow counties the option of setting up nonprofit organizations to help pay for those programs using community donated dollars.

Unger says the bill is neither an unfunded mandate nor in any way takes the responsibility away from parents.

“The ages of birth and eight-years-old is a critical time in a child’s development. If they are undernourished they deteriorate into other problems,” Unger said. “What attracts companies the most to West Virginia is a workforce that’s not on drugs or disability. If you don’t have that companies will not locate in West Virginia.

The bill sparked a lively debate in the House Friday night. Greenbrier County Del. Ray Canterbury suggested students could be asked to work for the food.

That generated several emotional responses.

“I cannot believe that anybody in this body would say a 1st grader, a 2nd grader, a 3rd grader, a 4th grader or a 5th grader has to labor before they could eat,” said Kanawha County Delegate Meshea Poore.

Poore said any West Virginian should be ashamed to suggest that a kid would not be able to go to school just to learn, but would also have to work.

The debate would continue for nearly 90 minutes as delegate after delegate stood up to make their voice heard.

House Majority Leader Brent Boggs was in favor of the bill and he couldn’t believe that this conversation was even taking place.

“It is absolutely pathetic that in a country as wealthy as this country is, that we’re talking about whether we should feed kids or not,” said Boggs.

Boggs said this topic goes behind just providing food to kids, it’s about education as well.

“It’s not a matter of a free lunch and it’s not a matter of a handout,” said Boggs. “Kids can’t learn if they’re hungry.”

Kanawha County Delegate Suzette Raines voted for the bill, but wanted to make each member realize that this could get expensive down the road.

“None of us would ever deny a hungry child a meal, but please be aware everyone that we may be writing check, a very large check, and know that we’re going to have to be able to pay for that one day,” said Raines.

Raines pointed to the fact that funding has recently been cut to senior citizen in-home meal services in the state and raised the concern of not wanting the same to happen to the Feed to Achieve program down the road.

“If we set up this massive food program for the students, it’s going to be very difficult, nor would anyone want to take that away,” said Raines.

The House passed the bill 89-9.  Poore said it’s a good move.

“This is the right step, we are moving West Virginia forward,” said Poore. “Whether you’re Republican, whether you’re Democrat, we are moving West Virginia forward.”

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    There is no reason for anyone in this state to aspire to be something in life. They are liberally supported forever. I have watched teenage mothers get free everything. That includes cell phones, utility bill payments, used cars to go to a menial job, food stamps, etc. the list goes on and on. We do nothing in this state to hold anyone accountable or stimulate the desire to rise to sustainability or greatness. I also agree that school personnel should have been included in the overall discussion. They are the boots on the ground. In closing, we have the most inept bunch of politicians that can be found.

  • Fubar

    Free Gov't food
    Free Gov't tuition
    Free Gov't cell phone
    Get in line "It's FREE"
    What a glorious time to be progressive liberal in a state that leads the nation in obesity and dependency

  • Tom

    As a veteran teacher I must agree that free and reduced meals cover anyone I know who wants to eat. You all need to come in and see what little they get to eat. I do not see how a growing teenager makes it through the day. We have these politicians patting themselves on the back for feeding the hungry students who are getting free/reduced meals already. Use that money to INCREASE what can offered to the students so they do not go home starving. Was there any input from school personnel on this??? I work at a school with around 70% free/reduce population. The kids eat all they can, just not enough there to get them through the day.

    • stophating

      @Tom. I work in a place that is very similar to what you describe, and not only do students get very little food, but if food of this quality were served in a prison a riot would ensue.

  • susanf

    This bill just further emphasizes the stupidity of our Legislature. Why in heaven's name do we need yet another handout program when the School Breakfast and Lunch program already exists?? And for those of you who are so morally upright (or maybe I should say uptight) and are so concerned about all the "poor starving children in WV schools", umm, do you not know that free and reduced price meals already are available to any student who qualifies?? And for those who don't, why in the world do you think that their families shouldn't be responsible for the cost of feeding them? Typical liberal "feel good" attitude that is totally out of touch with reality!

    • Ashly

      I'd just like to say that everything is not as black and white as most of you would like to think. In my personal situation, our household, that includes three children, makes $27 over the income limit for reduced price meals... now with three children in school, our lunch bill is upwards of $100 a month... that $27 doesn't go far. Nobody seems to think that children who are required to attend school should be provided meals, but you're okay with the incarcerated juvenile population getting fed, not one, not two, but THREE FULL meals a day, plus a "bed time snack" and they don't pay a dime. And these meals are much more fulfilling than those that are provided in schools. I find this idiotic. Why do those parents not have to pay for the support of their child.. I mean, that is what you're arguing, right? These kids ARE being taught that the gov't will take care of you. If I were lucky enough to be among the "wealthy" population of this state, the last thing I would be complaining about paying for would be to feed children. Just saying..

      • susanf

        Unbelievable! (H)Unger is claiming this stupid Feed to Succeed, or whatever the hell it is called, is "economic development"! Yeah, that makes a lot of sense - take more money out of people's pockets to fund something that is totally unnecessary and try to justify it by labeling it economic development!

        • thornton

          Once again, another agenda is showing.

          Ease off the caffeine.

  • thornton

    Our responsibility as a society extends to children in true need of some manner of or otherwise.
    But WE reduces both I and Responsibility, very quickly....we have seen that in the last few years.

    As to food increasing test scores...maybe we should feed the teachers as well.

    • susanf

      Yes, whoever will we blame next when the almighty test scores don't improve? Blame the teachers, blame the "hungry" children, but God forbid, don't blame the parents and the lousy home environment of some, if not most, of the underachieving students! When will we have the fortitude to say that parents who don't work, who abuse drugs, and who neglect their children are the PRIMARY cause of all these problems??

      • thornton

        I have seen the parents mentioned re tests score and beyond many times, here and elsewhere.
        Difficult, at times, to list all involved of every degree in any tragedy.
        Parents do carry a burden and one often exacerbated by their own issues as children....most, recognize the sad cycle of all dependency.

  • Jethro

    Why should we pay for the wealthy kids lunch? Couldn't that money be used elsewhere?

  • cutty77

    Very Simple.if you don't care of children when they are young.You can't build enough Jails to House them,put a price tag on That.

  • WV Worker

    Children in grade school don't know if they are getting free meals. Middle school maybe. But 9th thur 12th yes. Why can't they clean tables off, sweep the floor after lunch. I can remember in high school in the early 70's that's what we did. The students helped in the kitchen. Placing out trays, handling out milk, and we felt good about doing something because no one was giving us anything we were working. What is wrong with that. NOTHING and beleive me there were several that did this. I have 8 other brothers and sisters and my dad insisted that we do something to help ourselves. At that time can't do it now by older sister would candy and popcorn at lunch and got her lunch free, they can help in the office I'm not saying for hours mind you but 30 minuntes won't kill them. There is enought work to go around. Picking up trash inside school , think people. they have to learn everything is live is not free. Learn to work.

  • proudlyconservative

    Children do not choose their circumstances. I would rather my tax dollars go to feed a child than yet another rapacious chairman in the form of corporate welfare.

  • DWM


    Just one more step in the liberal march to parents not being responsible for their children and the state taking them over. You understand that the liberal mindset is they can do it better than you can becoause they are Elite and you are not.

    Read Brave New World, you'll understand where this is all going. Any parent that feels good about the state taking care of their child so they don't have to is UNFIT to be a parent.

  • Jeff

    These comments are ridiculous. The kids don't even know if they are eating for free until high school age. This is really easing a burden on a parents or parents who are making just enough to get by. I don't see where this hurts anyone and if in the future funding is low, a new bill can always change this. My point is, first graders are not rejoicing over their entitlements, geesh.

    • mntrbob

      We already do feed those that are less fortunate thru free and reduced programs and I think that is a good thing. You could make the arguement that because many of the families already receive some assistance they should be able to pack a lunch for their child, sadly in many cases this would not happen so the free and reduced program is necessary in my opinion. Look for additional food costs and personnel costs.

    • MrJ

      Good post,Jeff. It boils down to the mentality of "I got mine youngin', now go fend for yerself. Y'aint nuttin to me."

      God will judge how we take care of our children, born or unborn. I watched a child wrap butter containers into a napkin and place them in his jacket pocket and, as a parent and a teacher, I wasn't going to be the one to tell him he couldn't do that. That child knew the weekend was upon him.

      It has nothing to do with a particular news source or political affiliation. This is an issue that should cross the aisle. We have a responsibility to take care of all children, even if it means feeding those that aren't our own.

      Many rant about being "pro-life" but the notion of not feeding and caring for a child that is already here is disingenuous. No one should take their anti-government, anti-tax, anti-anything-that-takes-money-out-of-my-pocket notions out on children. Once we have them here, we have a responsibility to take care of them. At the risk of "giving away taxpayer dollars", the short-term cost will be minimal compared to the long-term risk.

      We need to take care of our children. We have a responsibility to take care of them, to educate, to clothe, to bring them up, and to love them and that means even if they aren't necessarily our own flesh and blood.

      Thank you Delegates Boggs and Poore.

      • Woodchuck

        Take the money out of your pocket if you want to feed them. Teach them to garden and fish. It worked real good for all of us.

      • susanf

        All these poor hungry kids must be starving one fat cell at a time b/c w/the childhood obesity rate at an all time high, I'm just not seeing all this "hunger" that you bleeding heart do-gooders are wringing your hands about.

  • Jethro

    Joseph stalin: they are almost there Comrad!


    What happened to if you can't afford children, then don't have any? So now we relieve parents of their moral and legal obligation to feed their children too while senior citizens fend for their themselves while budgeting for their bills to include medicine. Too many societal freebies. We are now teaching another generation of kids to not worry, the government will take care of you.


    So when are all of the counties going to be assessed at the maximum rate for personal property taxes? Again, some counties carry the rest of state. So it's for most delegates to give away taxpayer funds while they live in the counties with low property tax rates while the counties producing an effective economic steam of funding continue to pay the highest rate. This state is full of good ole boy BS. That's why our native high school and college graduates leave after graduation. There is no reason to stay here. It's simply beautiful scenery with no sustainment to live.

  • observer

    Are these politicians so dense that they can't realize a tongue-in-cheek criticism when they hear it? Or, are they just so eager to assert their moral superiority that they ignore the satire?

    Please someone explain why taxpayers are footing the bill for breakfast and lunch for kids whose families are more than capable of paying for it themselves. Is this simply an enactment in furtherance of the MSNBC worldview that says children don't actually belong to their families?