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'We want to dispel the myth about school meals': Sumter parents invited to try school lunches

The Sumter School District invited parents to taste what they serve to students.

SUMTER, S.C. — Sumter School District hosted a school lunch menu tasting Thursday night.

The idea was to give parents a taste of what their students are eating every weekday. 

“I like the frozen cup and pizza and the corn dogs and the beans,” Pocalla Springs Elementary student Jameer says is his favorite school lunch.

“I like all the food they bake,” first-grader Michael chimes in.

Tristan says he knows that these meals are important “because they try make you healthy…because that's how you get strong.”

An idea the district’s Director of Food Service Stacey Francis wants to share with families at the food tasting.

“We want to dispel the myth about school meals,” Francis explains. “That's where the idea actually came from. What can I do to let the community and the parents know, okay, allow your students to participate. The food is delicious.”

Francis says each meal is created using USDA guidelines, which means the meals are targeted to each age groups’ calorie, fat and sodium needs.

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“So much is involved in preparing the menu but the most important is making sure that the students consume the food because if they don't consume the food that is not nutrition,” Francis shares. “To see the clean plates, I think that is rewarding to me because once again, as I mentioned, to know that they're eating the food…I can serve it all day but if they don't consume it, that nutrition is not being…what they need is not there.”

Francis hopes that by increasing transparency with parents and giving them a taste of the food, community members and the school can work together to meet the nutrition needs of students across the district.

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“The goal is basically for us to engage together, come together to help encourage the students,” Francis says. “Of course that you know this is not just a job with the schools but this is also the job of the parents. So if we come together at home, we’re encouraging healthy meals and at school. Then we have children that have healthy habits for a lifetime.”

That food tasting is open to any parents in Sumter School District. It’s being hosted at Sumter High School in the common area from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.

“We definitely want to reach out to everyone that will be attending tonight,” Francis says. “We seek to be able to communicate with them in the future. So we're asking for email addresses to receive that feedback from them.”

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