A federal program, the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), passed in 2010 by Congress as part of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, made it an option for school boards to offer free breakfasts and lunches to all students in schools where 40 percent or more of children are low income.
The idea is to improve child nutrition and academic performance, save schools paperwork and money, and give a break to working parents. And it's worked really well around the country and especially in West Virginia, where 49 counties participate, including 510 schools and over 190,000 students.
I recently spoke to a school board member in Pocahontas County, which recently implemented CEP countywide. She said more kids were eating, the county was saving money AND test scores were going up.
That's the good news. The bad news is that the majority of House Republicans, including Congressmen Evan Jenkins and
Maryland Alex Mooney, voted to drastically cut the program, which would end free meals for hundreds of schools and thousands of kids in the Mountain State.
The Senate is expected to take up the budget next week. So far the cuts aren't part of the Senate plan but these days all threats are best regarded as credible. Senator Manchin has come out against the cuts, while Senator Capito's office has said something like they'll be watching it or whatever.