By Bob Weaver

Calhoun County is now one of West Virginia's school systems that will be participating in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Program, providing free meals to all students, according to Agriculture Under Secretary Kevin Concannon.

According to the latest numbers given the Hur Herald, about 70% of Calhoun students were already eligible for the Free and Reduced Lunch Program.

Concannon said the innovative option is to reduce administrative paperwork and costs, and reduce childhood obesity and improve nutrition in high poverty areas.

The program alleviates the burden on families by eliminating household applications, while helping schools reduce costs associated with collecting and processing those applications.

"Ensuring all school children have access to healthy, well-balanced meals is critical to their ability to learn in the classroom, grow up healthy and to reach their fullest potential," said Concannon.

The program reforms include updated nutrition standards for school meals to increase fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products, and science-based standards for all foods and beverages sold on the school campus.

The free meals program starts in Calhoun with school year 2012-13.

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