Beyond the tray: school lunch at Horry County Schools

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) -The challenge of serving a large variety of individual taste in food can be difficult.  Horry County school leaders say they try to find the perfect middle ground.

The sounds of the kitchen mean food is headed to trays.

“We are in the business to feed hungry children,” Laura Farmer, Horry County Director of School Food Services said. “A lot of hard work goes on behind the scenes.”

That work starts long before the food ever finds a tray.

“I feel that our meals in Horry County are some of the best in the state,” Farmer said.

Once one year ends, the planing for the next starts.

“We are constantly rearranging and trying new things,” Farmer said.

Sampling new products, meeting with vendors and analyzing menus to meet USDA guidelines.

“You are looking at calories, you are looking at fat, you are looking at sodium,”  Farmer said.

On to ordering and delivering. The team looks at what the kids like and may not like and try to adjust accordingly through the year. After the food arrives, the process moves to the kitchen.

“That starts early in the morning with preparation. You have to have all of your team members on the same page ready to go and organized,” Farmer said. 

The staff usually arrives between 5:30-6  a.m. but that can be even earlier depending on what they are making for breakfast.

It’s a physically demanding job lifting heavy boxes and almost always on your feet.  All worth it though when a clear tray and a satisfied stomach prepare the way for the learning mind.

The most popular thing according to the kids is Fried Chicken Thursday, which can double the lines.

The do balance it out throughout the week with other items so they stay within the limits on calories, fat and sodium.

Leaders also say the breakfast and lunch some children get at school are the only meals they get to eat.  It’s a job they say they take very seriously.