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      School Lunch: Does your childs' make the grade?

      A sample school lunch for students in South Carolina Grilled Chicken sandwich with garden salad, light ranch dressing, 1 percent milk, and applesauce.

      COLUMBIA (WACH)-If students had their way, their school lunch would probably be a bit different.

      Instead of fruits and veggies, there would be the fried favorites or just a sugary snack.

      Childhood obesity has become a national epidemic and public schools are taking a closer look at what's for lunch.

      "The good news is we're actually working to improve school lunch and breakfast programs across the state," says Dino Teppara, Director of Public Affairs for the South Carolina Department of Education.

      Teppara says with the Healthy Hungry Free Kids Act of 2010, school nutrition has already seen improvement in South Carolina.

      "This is a nationwide initiative and we're really pleased in south carolina to be leading the nation in the number of school districts that have adopted this new meal program, " says Teppara.

      Students must choose three out of the five offered components for lunch.

      A recent menu at Brockman Elementary contained barbecue chicken, oven roasted potatoes, steamed brocoli, seasonal fresh fruits and milk, a meal specifically planned to meet new USDA guidelines.

      According to the Centers for Disease Control, 17 percent of kids are now overweight and up to 40 percent of todays children will develop Type 2 diabetes during their lives if something doesnt change.

      "There's a lot of work that's gone on behind the scenes to make sure that we're offering the best choices for students," Teppara says, "and parents should feel very very very confident that we've done a lot of homework to make sure that their students are taken care of."

      So parents, how do you know if your child's lunch is making the grade?

      I found the information is a few clicks away.

      A simple food and safety search on the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control's website allows you to select by city or county.

      There's a complete list of every school in the state, its score and an indicator of its last inspection.

      Out of all the counties in the midlands, I found the lowest score was an 80 at Crayton Middle, which is still a passing grade by DHEC standards.

      Teppara says, "the bottom line is parents have the right to know what their children are eating at school."

      He also says parents can expect to see even more changes next school year.

      "Sodium decreasing in all meals...you're going to see some meals being replace and some items being replaced but they're much healthier options."