The Randolph County Schools Child Nutrition Department is dishing up many new and exciting programs this term.
Locally there are 12 schools included in the community eligibility pilot program, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and West Virginia Department of Education. This initiative provides free breakfast and lunch to every student attending these schools, regardless of family income.
Schools participating in the community eligibility program are Coalton Elementary, Harman School, Midland Elementary, Third Ward Elementary, Beverly Elementary, Homestead Elementary, North Elementary, Valley Head Elementary, George Ward Elementary, Jennings Randolph Elementary, Pickens School and Randolph County Alternative Learning Center.
Meals are being provided to students in the 12 schools this year for free, but students carrying an outstanding balance from previous years will continue to receive bills until all outstanding balances are paid in full.
Randolph County Child Nutrition Director Lorrayne Corley said school cafeterias are now meeting tough new federal nutrition standards.
"The standards ensure that meals are healthy, well-balanced and nutritionally sound," Corley said. "Starting this school year, additional requirements include age-appropriate calorie limits, larger servings of vegetables and fruits, a wider variety of vegetables including red, orange and dark green vegetables, fat-free or one percent milk, more whole grains and less sodium.
Corley said she is purchasing some locally grown produce for meals.
"This week, we bought cherry tomatoes, green peppers and slicing tomatoes from local growers," Corley said. "We are working with the Elkins High School Vocational Agricultural Department to arrange the purpose of food the students grow to serve with lunch."
Commodities the schools receive are being revamped as well to meet the new guidelines.
"These donated products used to include lots of processed foods," Corley said. "This comes from the USDA, goes to the West Virginia Department of Agriculture then are distributed to West Virginia schools."
Grab and go is another way the school nutrition department is changing to help Randolph County School Students. Corley said students learn best when they have fuel.
"Midland Elementary, Elkins High School and Elkins Middle School students may choose to have a grab and go breakfast at 9 a.m.," Corley said. "The kids like this option for a later meal. We believe this program has cut back on tardiness. Fewer students go home sick and the students are more alert."
Corley said the discipline issues were down 30 percent at Elkins Middle School and eating breakfast is one of the things helping with this issue.
"We went from serving 100 breakfasts at the middle school to serving more than 440 per day," Corley said. "Those numbers are holding steady this year."
The final addition to the Randolph County Nutrition Program is the ability to create a parent on line account. Benefits of this include:
The ability to pay using Visa or MasterCard debit or credit to pay meal bills or pay ahead for meals.
The website is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The ability to check account balances and see when students eat meals.
To set up an account visit www.parentsonline.net .
School meals remain a great value and a huge convenience.
"Student meals are $1.00 for breakfast and $1.25 for lunch," Corley said. "Families that are eligible for reduced meals pay 30 cents for breakfast and 40 cents for lunch."
Parents of students in Elkins Middle School, Elkins High School and Tygarts Valley Middle/High School are encouraged to complete household applications for free and reduced meals.
"Forms must be renewed each school year to qualify," Corley said. "Forms are available at the board office, at the schools or on line at www.wvschoolmeals.net."