Lawmakers say one in four West Virginia children don’t know where their next meal will come from. So local moms are doing something about it with the “Shared Table” Bill. The program is already being used in other states and communities are seeing success. Essentially the bill would allow school cafeterias to hand out leftover food to impoverished kids- instead of throwing it out.
70% of all West Virginia’s low income kids, eat free lunches at school. But many go home and don’t eat again until the next morning.
“As a mom I’ve been there done that. I was a single mom years and years ago and it as a struggle. So I know from experience how hard it is sometimes to just wonder where the next meal is going to come from,” Jenny Anderson, Director of Families Leading Change, told 13 News.
That could all change under the “Shared Table” bill, a law to allow schools to send leftover food home with needy students.
“If you have 10 pounds of food from every school in West Virginia that’s normally going into the trash cans- that’s thousands of pounds of food each year that could be going into kids’ mouths,” Anderson added.
Anderson saw the persistent problem while volunteering in schools, so she joined up with Delegate Chad Lovejoy to get a bill in motion. Now she’s working with other moms who have seen the same problem.
“It doesn’t take you very long to realize that we have hungry kids in every classroom in every building across this state,” Kanawha County mom Kimberly Earl told 13 News.
Earl is a mom of four and helps with a non-profit to send kids home with food each Friday, so they have something to eat over the weekend. She said this bill could ensure no kids fall through the cracks.
“I just don’t think you can wait on feeding kids. Its got to be now, it should have been years ago, but we just didn’t get it done so it has to be now,” Earl explained.
Extra food could also be provided to food banks and afterschool programs if students in a particular school didn’t need as much food themselves.
The USDA already has guidelines in place that restrict these programs to only prepackaged food or fruits and veggies with a peel. Under the bill schools would work with their county Health Department to develop a specific plan.
The “shared table” bill could become law soon since it passed through the House with just one “no” vote and is now in the Senate Education Committee.