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USDA Recognizes West Virginia School for Earning Gold in HealthierUS School Challenge

Dishing it out in the cafeteria.

Dishing it out in the cafeteria.

I recently had the pleasure accompanying Deputy Administrator for Special Nutrition Audrey Rowe and Yvette Jackson, Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator on a visit to Duval Elementary-Middle School in Lincoln County, West Virginia.  Known for wide open spaces and a laid back lifestyle, Lincoln County is also becoming known as a healthy place. We were there because Duval was recognized with a HealthierUS School Challenge gold award, the first of its kind in West Virginia.

Duval has made great strides in providing a high-quality nutrition environment for their students.  A new “grab and go” breakfast serves 340 each morning, while an after-school snack program helps kids fuel up at the end of the day.  And in a very innovative approach, AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers provide nutrition training to parents.  Students and staff alike enjoyed the celebration, featuring presentation of a certificate, banner and pins before an assembly of 300 students, faculty, school board members and local legislators.

A special highlight was the musical talent of Joey Smith, a 6th grade student who concluded the ceremony with a heart-warming performance of “Almost Heaven, West Virginia”. Moving to the cafeteria, we enjoyed a delicious lunch with students, including turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, fruit salad and milk. To top off an already great day, we learned that Diane Miller, the District’s Food Service Director is almost ready to submit a district-wide application for all of Lincoln County’s schools, some as “Gold with Distinction” schools.  In keeping with the song Joey sang earlier in the day, it was almost heaven for the Special Nutrition Programs!

Audrey Rowe encourages a young scholar to try the green beans!

Audrey Rowe encourages a young scholar to try the green beans!

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