Molly McKendry

Groundbreaking Ceremony for new Culinary and Nutrition Center

Springfield Public Schools: School Nutrition Leaders

It’s an exciting time for the Springfield Public Schools food service programs. In October, a case study was published that captured the strategies used by Springfield to enhance their school meals and increase breakfast and lunch average daily participation (ADP). In 2016, Springfield had a district-wide lunch ADP of 81% and breakfast ADP of 69%, (the national ADP rate for lunch is 59.1%, and 30.2% for breakfast). New England Dairy & Food Council has supported Springfield’s efforts to enhance their school meal programs for some time. Several years ago, the district was awarded funding from New England dairy farmers through the Fuel Up to Play 60 program to help launch Breakfast in the Classroom. To read more about this and the other great food and nutrition programs that have increased access to fresh, local foods for Springfield students, read more here.

Blueprints for the Center and menu items displayed
What’s Next: Springfield Culinary and Nutrition Center

This winter, the district and entire Springfield community have reached another milestone. This past December a groundbreaking ceremony was held to celebrate the beginning of the development of the Culinary and Nutrition Center in Springfield. The Center will serve as a hub for producing and packaging school meal components using local products whenever possible. Once prepared, the items will be sent to the schools for finishing touches before being served to students. 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 on-site.

That’s not all. The Center will also facilitate other operations, including catering services, the farm-to-school program, and local purchasing and sustainability. The positive impact of the Center will also be felt by the community due to job opportunities at the Center, a culinary arts training program for students and employees, and a projected growth in school meal participation.

Robert Leshin of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Groundbreaking Ceremony

On December 13th many were invited to the Center for the groundbreaking ceremony, which took place inside a portion of the building that will eventually be transformed into a test and training kitchen for the employees and students. Among school and community partners in attendance were Sodexo representatives, New England Dairy & Food Council staff, media outlets, and more. A local dairy farmer had also planned on going until a farm-related matter kept her from attending.

Blueprints of the Center were displayed throughout the large room, and future menu items adorned tables. Speakers at the ceremony included, but were not limited to, District Superintendent Daniel Warwick, Sodexo district manager Mark Jeffrey, Robert Leshin of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and Springfield Food Policy Chair Liz Willis-O-Gilvie. After the speakers addressed the crowd, several partners were provided with hard hats and golden shovels for the ground breaking ceremony.


Construction on the Center is anticipated to be finished in 2019.

Golden shovels and hard hats were used for the ceremony

Post updated: 1/17/2018

Molly McKendry

Molly is a registered dietitian and Manager of Nutrition Communications for New England Dairy & Food Council. She is responsible for providing communications and public relations support for our Fuel Up to Play 60 program and Health & Wellness teams in New England. In her free time, Molly likes to run, read, and travel. Sound like someone you want to get to know? Contact Molly at