W.Va. officials hope free meals help students

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) - State and local officials across West Virginia are hoping that a federal pilot program that allows school systems to offer free breakfast and lunch will help boost student achievement.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is offering its Community Eligibility Option to 280 schools from more than half of West Virginia counties, allowing nearly 90,000 low-income students to eat at no charge.

Officials hope that encouraging students to eat meals prepared at higher nutritional standards will improve their academic performance.

Cabell County Superintendent William Smith tells The Herald-Dispatch (http://bit.ly/PwmpNt) that research shows that nutrition and achievement are linked, and that many students come to school undernourished.

The USDA offered the program to three states last year, and four more this year, as part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.

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