West Virginia lawmakers consider take-home meals for schoolchildren

By JOSELYN KING

The Weirton Daily Times

WHEELING — Many children in West Virginia already partake in free and reduced-cost lunch and breakfast programs at their school. Now, a bill introduced last week in Charleston would require schools to provide take-home meals to students upon request.

And this past holiday season there were no visions of cookies or sugar plums in West Virginia schools as such sweets are currently banned in public schools. A second measure before lawmakers would allow both schools and parents to serve cookies at Christmas time to children while they are at school.

Both measures were introduced by Delegate Ralph Rodighiero, D-Logan, and are before the House Education Committee.

House Bill 2172 would amend West Virginia’s “Feed to Achieve Act” to include take-home meals alongside breakfast and lunch options in the state’s plan to insure proper nutrition for school students. If approved, the bill would require school districts to implement take-home meal programs no later than the 2017 school year.

Take-home meals would be provided to any student who requests them.

House Bill 2014, meanwhile, states parents or schools “may serve sweets during the holidays, including, but not limited to, cakes, pies, chips, candy or other types of sweets” if the school sends permission slips to the parent or guardian a week in advance, and receives consent from parent or guardian prior to serving the snacks.

“Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit or limit sale or distribution of any food item through fundraising activities of students, teachers or educational groups when the items are intended for sale off the school grounds,” the bill reads.

Nancy Karavolos, the new coordinator of the child nutrition program for Brooke County Schools, said parents are discouraged from sending any food to the school for consumption by students. She said school officials wouldn’t be aware of what ingredients could be in the food, and if problems arose there could be a liability issue for the school district.

“What do they mean when they say they are allowing Christmas cookies?” she asked. “Are they talking about those coming from an outside vendor? They have to be more specific.”

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