More W.Va. schools will offer kids free meals

CHARLESTON (AP) — West Virginia will participate in a program this fall to offer 90,000 children free breakfast and lunch at school.

The state Department of Education says 35 of 54 eligible counties will use the Community Eligibility Option, a program that lets the state expand a free meals pilot project.

Superintendent Jorea Marple says countless children go to school hungry, making it impossible to focus on school work.

The state’s Universal Free Meals pilot program targeted Cabell, Clay, Fayette, Gilmer, Lincoln, Mason, McDowell and Mingo counties. Marple says this year, about 283 schools will participate.

Nineteen counties opted out for various reasons, including cost.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says nearly 14 percent of West Virginians don’t know where they’ll get their next meal, and more than 88,500 children live in poverty.

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