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When We Nourish, They Flourish

Pop quiz:

How can a school district boost student health, focus and academic performance in one fell swoop?

Before responding, know that we found the answer in working with Springfield, Massachusetts Public Schools as part of comprehensive enhancement of food services. The goal was to address student health as well as performance, absenteeism and discipline.

And, together, we did it. Springfield saw steady and measurable improvements across the board. While average daily participation in the program spiked, the school program revenue steadily grew.

More on the full program, including aspects like the backpack, supper and farm to school initiatives are in the downloadable report: Springfield Schools: When You Nourish, They Flourish.

Back to the quiz. Of the many successful elements of the program, one stood out for its innovative approach and embrace by the student body.

Ready for the answer?

It’s breakfast ... in the classroom.

In Springfield, we partnered with the New England Dairy & Food Council and community organizations to provide mobile carts filled with milk, yogurt, cereal and fruit among other options. Rolling those carts into classrooms allowed students to eat at their desk during their first period.

The convenience of the meals and the fact that they were free and designed by using student surveys, were an immediate hit. They also, crucially, removed the stigma around participating in a free breakfast program.

The offering lead to a district-wide jump in Breakfast ADP of 22 percent and, in some schools, close to 90 percent students participated.

The impressive participation rates have meant that Springfield qualifies for federal and community grants and, at the same time, has increased overall meal participation.

The best part is that school officials say they believe the embrace of breakfast may have made a difference in helping to improve students’ satiety and mood during the school day and making them more ready to learn.

“It used to take three bells to get students to the classroom,” said Timothy Gray, Springfield’s school nutrition administrator. “But now they’re there before the first bell rings.”

Learn more about the successful Springfield and Sodexo partnership.

Hear more about Sodexo school services and how they can boost your student well-being.

January 28, 2020

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