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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  • HealthyDosage

    If a PRISONER, who clearly did something ILLEGAL, receives 3 free meals a day, then why can't a CHILD, who is OBEYING the law by going to school, receive only 2 free meals a day? When the murderers, rapists, thieves, child molestors, drug abusers, and drunk drivers start working for their meals, then maybe we can have the innocent children start working for theirs too.

    Speaking of working, those who actually do maintain a steady job are already paying for the free meals of both the innocent children and the convicts. For those of you who are unaware, this is known as TAXES. If those who work for a living are already paying for "free" lunches, then why can't their child(ren) receive them too?

  • joey

    has everyone forgotten what it is to sacrifice. parents doing without, so kids could eat. i remember in the seventies earning 50.00 dollars a week, and making 50.00 house payment, and 50.00 car payment, per month. that meant me & my wife did without so we could eat. raised garden, canned, ate alot of deer meat & sold furs. never any food stamps, or any kind of govt. assistance. heaven forbid parents doing without to supply needs for children. both kids are extremely successful. parents pass it on. show them how,either hand out, or hand to the plow. your example leads to the next generation. P.S. paid for school lunches as well.

  • Frontier User

    Right on Jeff! Pro-life people want you to be born into this world regardless, but the support stops there. I bet these "working class" people have never used assistance. I am.not tooting my own horn, but my "comfortable living" because of my work ethic has earned me the availability to help others, knowing that one day I may need help myself.

  • Jeff

    I would think anyone for life would be for health and nutrition. Immediately, we are all liberal communiststo you. This is not the case. I am against most spending. I can't live with myself denying children or seniors a deserved quality of life. God help us all if every discussion is this irrational.

  • Fentanyl Bomb

    Progressives write a bill ensuring that hungry children can eat.

    Conservatives oppose an entire bill because one hungry child may eat even though the parents make too much to qualify.

    Good move, Delegate Boggs. Your constituancy is watching.

    This constituant is proud of you.

  • Jethro

    Wvforlife has said it all brother! That's why kids with some ambition gets the hell out of this godforsaken state!

  • Bob

    What is wrong with having the free and reduced lunch system stay in place? I have a problem paying tax money for kids whos parents are able to foot the bill.

  • Woodchuck

    Now them irresponsible parent will have more money for illegal drugs. Thanks Unger.

    So much for school reform. Lets give the teachers a raise instead.

  • Woodchuck

    This is Obama food care. Provide for us working folks too. Where is our handout?


    By the way, it appears that Senator Unger never misses a meal, so why not send the hungry to his home. Lol.


    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.