HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — Some changes might be coming to school lunches in Horry County by 2025.
News13 last reported on school lunches in August, with Horry County Schools providing free lunches for the 2023-2024 school year.
A clinical nutrition manager at Grand Strand Medical Center, Auburn Fowler, said that based on the most recent dietary guidelines for Americans released in 2020, school cafeterias have to choose a fruit, vegetable, whole grain and meat or meat alternative to serve with every meal.
“There’s lots of studies out there about school lunches and school breakfasts and most of the time, participating in the school lunch program helps reduce rates of childhood obesity and improves performance in school,” Fowler said. “So, all-in-all, it’s a really good thing.”
Fowler said that a lot of times, people don’t realize schools and their lunch programs follow federal guidelines rather than state.
“So, what they’re currently doing in schools is very different than what we’re teaching our patients,” she said.
Fowler said this is because her and her co-workers use the most recent research, while the USDA is having to use research that’s a couple of years old. She said that’s because it takes longer for the USDA to get results from studies before creating new dietary guidelines to push to schools across the country.
One guideline that Fowler mentioned is coming to schools in 2025 is reducing the number of added sugars in student lunches.
“They’re not going to offer flavored milks probably as often because of the added sugars in those,” she said. “You’ll probably see a reduced amount of sweetened yogurts and things like that, that have added sugars. I expect that you’ll see more focus on whole grains, even more than you do now.”
Fowler said that guideline has been a conversation between her and her co-workers for three to four years now, but nothing will be changed until the USDA collects their studies and federal funding.
Lisa Bourcier, a spokesperson for Horry County Schools, said that as standards are updated through the USDA, Horry County Schools will follow.
Some parents and grandparents have mixed opinions on the potential changes.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea because, I mean, my generation, the generation under me, my grandchildren, my children, we ate it, we drank it and there’s nothing wrong with us,” Linda Page said.
“I think in moderation, sugar is fine as long as you’re not, like, overdoing it,” Megan Taylor said. “A lot of children, especially children that have ADHD, benefit from that because it actually calms them down.”
Fowler said that whether you’re a student or not, it’s important to eat on a schedule. She said it can help with concentration and having a normal, daily appetite.
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Jackie LiBrizzi is a multimedia journalist at News13. Jackie is originally from Hamilton, New Jersey, and was raised in Piedmont, South Carolina. Jackie joined the News13 team in June 2023 after she graduated as a student-athlete from the University of South Carolina in May 2023. Follow Jackie on X, formerly Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, and read more of her work here.