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Governor Earl Ray Tomblin officially signed a bill into law Wednesday aimed at helping children do better in the classroom. The Feed to Achieve Act provides free breakfast and lunch to all students around the state.

Tomblin put his signature on the bill in Martinsburg at Berkeley Heights Elementary School.

Tracy Heck is the Director of Childhood Nutrition and Wellness for the Berkeley County School System. She says some students will rely on the program, others not so much, but everyone is included.

“You have a wide range of students in every county. On the continuum, some parents really need some help, all the way up to parents whose kids are fed their Wheaties [at home] every day,” says Heck.

Berkeley County already has a pilot project in place that feeds all children at 6 elementary schools. The Feed to Achieve Act will bring in every school in the state, from pre-K to high school.

With all students across the state getting the free meals, there will no longer be the stigma on children who desperately need the free food but are ashamed to take it because they feel they’ll be singled out.

Heck says those schools participating in the pilot program are already seeing positive changes.

“We see increased participation. We are seeing better attendance. To me that’s the better payoff,” stresses Heck.

The state Department of Education has had several free lunch programs in place in counties around the state. Heck says the proof isn’t in the pudding but rather the classroom.

“There are less tardies, less disciplinary issues and the academics go up,” according to Heck. “Kids are able to pay more attention.”

Feed to Achieve is a public/private partnership, where the community gets involved in financing those free meals through local donations and making the most out of federal funding.

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  • Abby

    Oh boy Susan you make me want to rip my kids out of public school..out of WV and attempt home schooling. I'm with Dave, Lay off the free food for kids and start trimming else where.

  • Luke

    More psychobabble from Education Administrators, this time from the Nutritionist. Is it any wonder why WV ranks near the bottom in educating its children?

  • Jessica

    @ Dave, you may be registered republican, but you are no republican.

  • Susan

    Feeding the needy is good. Feeding kids for free who can afford to pay is bad. Finding the truly needy is the trick. As a teacher I see many free or reduced eaters who reek of cigarette smoke, have IPods and other expensive toys, etc. Just as other federal programs this is rife with fraud and abuse. I'd rather see the extra money spent to weed it out.

    • Jessica

      Stigma? That is why our welfare system has grown out of control. That is why we have almost 11 million people on "disability" some of whom I know personally who aren't disabled at all. Oh boy do I get a refund for the school lunch bills I have paid for 3 children for 12 years for each child? This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard of. I'm glad my last one is graduating in a week. it used to be people were proud, didn't want a hand out. Now its a contest to see who can get the most free stuff. Absurd.

    • susanf

      And with the childhood obesity epidemic we have, I really have to wonder where all these hungry children are. And aren't we going to just ADD to the obesity problem by overfeeding kids who may now eat 2 breakfasts every day?? This is a completely useless, unnecessary "feel-good" law imposed on us by the idiots in Charleston and embraced by the idiots in this state who don't understand that a safety net already exists to feed children, namely the School Breakfast and Lunch Program, which does in no way "single out" students who receive free or reduced price meals.

    • Dave

      Let's start by weeding out some of the teachers and the state pension system....If I don't perform, I get fired.

      If a teacher doesn't perform after they are in the system a while, they get promoted to other jobs within the school system until they retire!

      And I would say they live very comfortable....The nicest all brick houses in my development (all over 3,000s.f. with very large cars, trucks, etc., parked in the garage) are from teachers. The bank president and a few local lawyers, don't have it as good as the teacher(s) around me!

      So let's start by trimming off the fat from the UNIONIZED teachers!

  • Tom

    I am a registered democrat and a teacher and I must agree with Susan. The kids who cannot afford a meal are getting fed. People in Charleston are patting themselves on the back because they are either ignorant of the situation or because they know they just bought some more votes.

    • Ax Man

      Tom ,I am sure that the one's in Charleston are more concerned about votes, than they are about children eating, but any welfare program, alway brings a lot of votes.

  • Susan

    So now taxpayers are on the hook for meals for rich kids just so someone's feelings aren't hurt. Ridiculous. Work with ones who need help so they won't feel ashamed. What's next? Food stamps for all? Free medical service for all? Oh, wait. Tomblin recently put us on that path, too. When federal dollars stop, we'll all be paying for Medicaid expansion. Besides, federal dollars are taxpayer dollars, too.

    • Tankgirl

      I agree with that...what's next? Food stamps for all? Maybe we should invite illegals to stay in our homes and spend more money on them too. Wtf

    • Dave

      @ Susan,

      For all of the things that I pay taxes for...and I would consider myself more than "paying my fair share - using the popular news media and the President's own words", I have no problem paying for this one. It's the other's that I DO have a problem paying for without a choice!

      I DO NOT support Obamacare nor the expansion of Medicaid, but I believe that all legal US citizens should have some basic health care opportunities and access.

      This is just smart, invest in children when they are young and help them become a more productive and responsible adult versus paying for them later in life. Set thier course for triumph, not failure! And a final qoute, "Do unto/for others as you would have them do unto/for you."

      • Ax Man

        Dave ,All legal and illegal's have access to health care, if you think different, then you need to get your head out of the sand, they can go to any emergency room for help, this is a Federal law, it applies to anyone in the country

  • Dave

    Good news! And I am a registered Republican who does vote. I may not be able to change their parents or their parents actions, but I can have a positive input on the child while they are still at school. And NO, I'm not a teacher, board member or UNION SUPPORTER! I am a lucky person who by the grace of God received an education from a grandfather who was a poor Texas share crop-farmer. I took that knowledge, common sense and what I received from WVU and now am a father of 3, who has seen first hand the troubles of poor families in rural counties across the US. I don't care for Tomblin, but I respect this more than I do what Manchin has tried to do to us in America.

    • Jason

      Very well put! Children are the innocent and should be helped to succeed. It's sad that the meals provided by the schools is sometimes the only meals some of the children get.