Counties can claim $2.86 reimbursement for each supper, Goff said. Valley High Principal Lee Loy said bigger meals at the end of the week would not be possible without donations from local parents.
The parents will either help cook the meal, or donate food or money, he said. He encourages parent involvement in any regard, but hopes the meal help continues after football season ends. The after-school tutoring program really picks up in October, and the number of students looking for a school supper increases in the winter, he said.
As far as Minter can tell, no one gets picked on for taking the free meal. She can't tell which students actually qualify and said she tries to greet each student with a smile.
"You just don't know which ones. . .are having trouble at home," she said.
There can be a stigma involved with free and reduced-price meals, Seay said, adding the number of applications for the program tends to be lower at the high school level.
"I wish our county was more prosperous and kids and families didn't need to be on the free and reduced meal program, but it is what it is," Seay said. "We enjoy the fact that we can provide those meals to those kids."
Last year was the first time Wayne County participated in the program, said county food services director Brenda Arrowood. It served more than 31,500 suppers at 16 schools. Two more schools are participating this year, and Arrowood is confident the number of meals served is going to rise.
'There's definitely a need. Our whole county is at 58 percent needy at this time," she said.
Wayne County students generally receive bag meals, she said. They consist of a sandwich, fruit, vegetable and milk. A salad option is offered once a week.
The county doesn't have the staff to provide hot meals after school every day, but any food is better than none, in Arrowood's opinion.
"I feel (the program) was very successful, and it was very well received by the administration," she said.
In total, 224,347 suppers were served last school year. And that's paltry compared to the number of meals served to students who qualify for free and reduced-price lunch and breakfast, Goff said.
The state served about 35 million lunches last year, and roughly 65 percent went to needy students, Goff said. Of the 15 million breakfasts served, he thought 70 percent went to children in need. That number will only increase this year with breakfast programs expanding throughout the state, he said.
Last year 52.8 percent of West Virginia students - more than 150,000 - applied and qualified for free and reduced-price meals, according to data provided by Goff. Of the state's 55 counties, only six had less than half of their students apply for free or reduced-price meals.
Goff is confident more students qualify but don't apply and more counties could offer the supper program.
"We could do a lot better," he said.