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SPS Students Try Locally Grown Foods

Students in three Springfield elementary schools are getting something extra at lunch.  They’re part of a program looking at how best to implement local foods in Springfield Public Schools.  KSMU’s Michele Skalicky has more.

Besides their regular lunch, students at Jeffries, Rountree and Robberson are being served locally grown fruits and vegetables this week. 

It’s part of a new Springfield Public Schools program called Farm 2 School made possible by a grant from the USDA. 

Jean Grabeel, manager of health services for the district, says they received the grant so SPS can look into how best to improve the health of students and ultimately the community.

"Part of this grant is taking a look at how we might bring in locally grown foods and serve them as part of our lunch and breakfast program," she said.

One day a week for three weeks, kids in the three participating schools get locally grown fruits and vegetables with their lunch.

And, not only are kids getting to try new foods, but they’re also learning about where the food comes from.  Part of the grant allowed them to take a field trip to a local farm.

At Jeffries this week, students were served a cucumber tomato salad made with produce from Fassnight Farms and locally grown cantaloupe. 

Kindergartner Micah Davis decided to try both.

"Did you like the cantaloupe?"  "Yeah."  "What do you think about this?" (pointing to cucumber and tomato salad)  "Well, I like pickles and tomatoes," he said.

Layla Redden also liked the addition to her lunch tray.

"What do you think?"  "Good," she said.

Missouri State University students are assisting in the program by talking to students afterwards and finding out what they liked and what they didn’t like.  Grabeel says that will help the district plan for the future.

"That's our goal is 'how can we provide more locally grown foods, and how can we incorporate that within our breakfast and lunch programs?'  So, the future ahead is looking at how we might implement that fully across the district," she said.

According to SPS, district officials will apply this November for a USDA Farm to School implementation grant, which will fund the ongoing effort to increase the fresh, local food options in school cafeterias district wide.

Board of Education members will sample local fruits and vegetables harvested from school gardens before their regular meeting tonight.