Horry County school cafeteria manager shares ‘Recipes for Succes - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Horry County school cafeteria manager shares ‘Recipes for Success’ for school lunches

Ms. Tory Gibsons 'Recipe for Success' Ms. Tory Gibsons 'Recipe for Success'
Ms. Tory Gibson working the lunch line. Ms. Tory Gibson working the lunch line.

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Horry County Schools are celebrating National School Lunch Week by highlighting St. James Intermediate cafeteria manager, Ms. Tory Gibson.

The kids and teachers know her as Ms. Tory, and her passion is to change the way people typically think about school cafeteria lunch. She shares her "Recipe for Success" to help educate kids on nutritional, affordable, and fun meals during breakfast and lunch at school.

Horry County Schools said it served 2.3 million breakfasts and 3.8 million lunches across the district's 53 campuses in the 2016-2017 school year. Ms. Tory said that is a huge number, but still not big enough for her. She wants her kids to love her meals so much that St. James Intermediate becomes a totally lunch bag-free school.

“I definitely would love all my children to choose school lunch," Gibson said. "Right now we are only feeding about fifty percent of the school; we want to increase that at least by 20, 25 percent. At the end of the year I would like it to be 80 percent of the children that’s here."

Gibson's 'Recipe for Success’ starts with five components, and there are color-coated posters to show the kids. They highlight smaller portions and more options with whole grain breads, milk, a fruit and always a rainbow of vegetables. She added, “Oh it’s a balanced meal. We have the five components which is the grain, dairy, vegetable, fruit and a lean protein. They can take five but the minimum is three.”

Sixth grader Landon White is convinced as he goes through the lunch line.

“I like this a lot better than my old school because it has a lot more taste," White said. "The chicken is very good, it's my favorite because it has a lot of taste...They have a lot of mixtures of food too, definitely. I always get the vegetables.”

This year, President Donald Trump is trying to scale back some school meal nutritional requirements that we were set by President Barack Obama in 2012. The areas include grains, salt and milk. Laura Farmer, Horry County Schools Director of School Food Services said she was hoping the USDA would make it a little easier to make some of the changes. Those include proving the whole grain participation has decreased by 50 percent or changing to only serve 2 percent milk when the schools have served 1 percent and skim milk for so long. Farmer said Horry schools would like to see the calorie intake lifted and already have a highly reduced sodium requirement.

Ms. Tory's goal every day is to make a fun cafeteria, too. That includes a sparkling hat and fun contests for the kids. “To me it’s showtime, that’s why I put my hat on and really it’s entertainment for the children. I have my buttons and I even give buttons away to the children," Gibson said.

The bagged lunch verses school lunch price statistics are shown in the cafeteria so Gibson can highlight how much more affordable school lunch is. She said time is priceless for parents, too, so to allow the school to fix the meals for them. She said the cost of a school lunch at St. James Intermediate is around $434.40 per year. A bagged lunch can range from $572.40 per year to $768.60 per year depending on what parents purchase.

Gibson came from North Myrtle Beach High School before working with 5th and 6th graders. “So it’s a big change and challenging, but I love every minute of it," Gibson said.

Horry County Schools has its entire menu of breakfast and lunch planned out at the start of every school year for parents to view and each menu is analyzed for calorie, fat, salt and vegetable intake.

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