"When you have an initiative that's this progressive -- that's never really been done -- you don't know what to expect. You don't know what you don't know," he said. "People ask me do I think it will fail. I don't know what to think, but I know one thing: it's not going to fail because we didn't try."
More than 330 schools in 38 counties already offer free breakfast and lunch under the Community Eligibility Option (CEO), which allows schools to provide all of their students free meals if at least 40 percent of the student body is eligible.
While CEO, a program being implemented in only three other states in the country, is separate from Feed to Achieve, the results are telling, Goff said.
The state has 52 counties with at least one CEO eligible school, yet 14 counties have resisted the program altogether.
That's because there's a fear that CEO could cost counties additional funding, which is true if the program is not implemented properly. But some school systems -- like Cabell County -- have already broke even and brought in additional funding through the program, he said.
Goff said Feed to Achieve does not place a burden on the school systems, and is hoping for more open minds than in the past.
"It's frustrating. Sometimes school administrators aren't supporting it like they should," he said. "We've been methodical in our approach as to how to do this. It's so new, and we're trying to do it all in conjunction with all of these other federal nutrition programs. At some point, we will move into a marketing advertising phase, but we're not there yet."
The goal for the new meal plan is not only to combat childhood hunger in the state, but to improve student attendance, attentiveness and overall achievement.
In Kanawha County, where 58 of its 68 schools have already implemented the CEO option, more and more schools are moving toward new breakfast strategies and are hopeful for what Feed to Achieve can mean for students.
"We're basically creating an atmosphere that's conducive to learning and eating. I've seen an explosion of participation since breakfast was moved into the classroom. Students love it," said Diane Miller, the county's executive director for food and nutrition. "It's not a disruption like some teachers might think. Students might learn better if they're not hungry."
Miller said that while she can't speak for other counties, any extra work that comes with the new law is worth it to Kanawha County Schools to provide more for needy students.
"Some feel it's an aggressive approach, but in Kanawha County, we took the aggressive approach in order to allow healthier eating and enable all children, regardless of socioeconomic status, to eat," she said.Reach Mackenzie Mays at mackenzie.m...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4814.