After-School Nutrition Program Reaches Rural Communities

Dozens of students participate in an after-school program at Hopkins Elementary School in rural Richland County. After most of their classmates have gone home for the day, these kids go to the library. Plates, pasta shells, and measuring cups are scattered across the tables. And they’re focused on the TV.

On the screen, a health educator from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) connects to the screen through a video chat, and teaches the kids about nutrition using hands-on activities. It’s happening through a program with DHEC and Palmetto Health’s Community Health office.

The weekly program meets 16 times per semester, teaching kids about the different aspects of nutrition that they’ll use to live healthier lives. They measure portions for recipes, make healthy snacks, and learn the differences between whole foods and not-so-healthy options.

Connecting to three rural elementary schools in Richland County, educators said the program provides a vital service to a community that needs it.