SPS: Farm to School Program Connects Kids With Their Food

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - Some Springfield Public School teachers spent Thursday learning how to teach their kids to connect with their food. The Farm to School program is an effort by several school districts throughout Missouri to improve students health with fresh and nutritious foods. Some students even get to grow their own foods in outside classrooms.
"When we do our education and nutrition classes we say where does food come from and a lot of our kids say Walmart or the food pantry," said Dr. Pam Duitsman, University of Missouri Extension Nutrition and Health Specialist.
"Some kids have never really had the opportunity to see things growing in the ground and they don't make that connection to their food," said Stephanie Smith, Farm to School Coordinator for Springfield Public Schools.
Some Springfield Public School district students are growing their own lunch.
"They get to go out into the garden and actually learn how to plant food, how to harvest food, how science and math are involved in that," said Dr. Duitsman.
"They get to go out, dig in the dirt and see where the food is coming from. How to make that happen, the magic in the seed and see that it's their power to produce something like that," Dr. Duitsman.
It connects kids to the local economy, teaching them the importance of buying food directly from farmers nearby.
"We also want to be able to take them out to local farms and farmers markets so they can have field trips, see the food growing and meet their farmers," said Smith.
Getting to dig in the dirt while learning is something they say the kids enjoy.
"We're hearing from parents that they go home and they ask their mom and dad not only can we buy this in the store but can we actually plant this," said Dr. Duitsman.
"It's an opportunity for them to really engage with what they're learning. The kids really enjoy the fresh food and they enjoy being in the gardens," Smith said.
Not all Springfield Public Schools have gardens but Farm to School Coordinator Stephanie Smith said the end goal is for all schools to have their own. Whether it's an outside garden or an inside tower garden so students are able to eat their own fresh foods for lunch.

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