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Farm-to-School Effort Trains SPS Teachers for Outdoor Classrooms

MU Extensions Garden
James Quinn
MU Extensions

A training Thursday for selected elementary teachers at Springfield Public Schools will help them teach in an outdoor setting and increase students’ awareness of healthy food options.

The “Farm-to-School” training is aided by a USDA grant that incorporates fresh, local produce into school meal programs. SPS has coordinated with MU Extensions, Springfield-Greene County Health Department and Community Partnership of the Ozarks for this training.

It will enable these teachers to utilize the school’s gardens as outdoor classrooms, offering students hands-on experience about nutrition and healthy eating. In addition, the program aims to create connections to local farms.

This is not something entirely new for SPS. Along with program partners, SPS has been working since January 2016 to try to procure local food to serve in Delaware, Robberson, Jeffries and Rountree Elementary schools, as well as Hickory Hills K-8 School. 

MU Extension is partnering with the SPS Farm-to-School team on procurement, training, and in-school and gardening education.  The Greene County MU Extension office works with schools, farmers, vendors and communities to improve access to fresh, flavorful local food. 

According to a news release, the goal is for students to have heightened awareness of fresh, healthy, and local food in their community, and gain an improved attitude towards eating healthy. As a result, studies show that students will purchase more schools lunches. MU Extension says it encourages officials to incorporate more healthy options into school meals. 

The training for teachers takes place from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday at the Springfield-Greene County Botanical Center.