Leaders in School Meals: Springfield Public Schools

Nourish to Flourish

In March of 2017 the Urban School Food Alliance partnered with National Dairy Council to hold the first Nourish to Flourish School Meals Summit in the Chicago, IL area. The three-day summit was attended by over 250 child wellness stakeholders from around the country, as well as students (sixteen of which were Fuel Up to Play 60 Student Ambassadors). The purpose of the summit was to bring thought leaders together to share their visions, collaborate, and develop goals aimed at improving the school meal experience for all students. During the summit, it became evident that there were two major ideas shared amongst the summit participants: school meals must be nutritious and something that students want, and all students should have access to school meals.

For more information about the summit, read the summit proceedings.

Springfield Schools: When you Nourish, They Flourish Case Study

Over the past few years, the Springfield Public School District has emerged as a leader in school nutrition. Due to some major changes to their school meal program, they have increased breakfast and lunch participation in their schools and have maintained a financially sustainable food service operation. There have also been noticeable improvements in overall student behavioral metrics including absences, tardiness, disciplinary action, and academic achievement. While this is likely multi-factorial, research suggests that when students’ nutrition needs are met, improvements are seen in attentiveness, attendance, and disciplinary problems.1

When the Springfield team talks enthusiastically about the work they have led for the past few years, the ongoing introduction of Breakfast in the Classroom stands out, but they make it clear that there wasn’t just one thing. They tried many different approaches that filled the different needs in the urban community, from removing stigma from school meals, to addressing children feeling hungry on the days when there are no school meals, to connecting kids with farmers and the land.

Read the full Springfield Schools case study

Read the full Springfield Schools case study one-pager

1Food Research & Action Center. http://frac.org/wp-content/uploads/cnnslp.pdf

 

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Groundbreaking

Samples of meal items that will be prepared at the Culinary and Nutrition Center

The groundbreaking for the Springfield Public Schools Culinary and Nutrition Center was held in  Springfield, MA on December 13th. This Center will support school nutrition programs district-wide by serving as a hub for producing and packaging school meal components, facilitating the farm-to-school program, and providing a culinary arts training program for students and employees. The Center is anticipated to enhance the school meal experience by providing external support to the individual schools that are encouraged to cook from scratch.
Among Springfield community members that attended the groundbreaking included District Superintendent Daniel Warwick and Robert Leshin of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.