SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Springfield Public Schools are a national leader in school nutrition improvements.
A new study by the New England Dairy and Food Council says the improvements were made through innovative initiatives that affected student wellness.
The district implements many programs that take a nutrition-based approach when it comes to providing meals for children. Some of those programs include bringing the freshest ingredients to schools from local farms. Students are also given the opportunity to have meals made with homegrown ingredients, right from the school’s garden.
In 2019, Springfield will open a culinary and nutrition center, which will supply fresh foods and ingredients to schools every day, in addition to the meals that their food service, Sodexo, supplies.
In addition to the efforts for fresh and local foods, part of Springfield’s program “Nourish to Flourish” is to make sure no child goes hungry. They provide breakfast, summer, and weekend meals to students who are food-insecure. Lunch is free for all students through the Community Eligibility Provision, which removes the social stigma of receiving free or reduced-price lunch.
Superintendent of Schools Daniel Warwick says that Springfield leads the state when it comes to improvements in student performance. He says that implementing programs that feed students cause academic performance and attendance to go up, and tardiness and behavioral issues.
The study also looks at how successful the district is in creating a financially-sustainable food service.