Wednesday, December 14, 2016
Plans to erect a 62,000 square foot center for the daily preparation, cooking and baking of fresh foods for Springfield school children will also provide training for students and offer new employment opportunities for more than 40 adults, thanks to a ground-breaking partnership between Springfield Public Schools (SPS) and its food service provider Sodexo.
The first of its kind in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the culinary and nutrition center is poised for location in a renovated space near Sodexo’s current 18,000 square foot facility at 75 Caldwell Drive. Construction is anticipated to begin in early 2017 and will occur over two years.
Tim Gray, food service administrator for SPS, said the expansion is necessary to accommodate the district’s and Sodexo’s staunch commitment to serve nutritious meals every day for every child. In addition to providing lunch for all of Springfield’s students, Sodexo provides summer meals throughout the community and recently introduced “breakfast in the classroom,” one of the first comprehensive breakfast programs in the United States. Gray pointed to those programs along with the Farm-to-School program as examples of the need for expansion.
“We’ll have the ability to expand on every one of these programs, and others, in our new facility” said Gray, adding that Sodexo has a 10-year agreement with Springfield Public Schools and recently won a five-year renewal. “Just imagine students having homemade muffins bursting with blueberries picked from a local farm, still warm because it was delivered to their school straight from our ovens.”
But the new facility will not only be used to feed Springfield students, it will serve a dual role as a training center. SPS will involve students at Roger L. Putnam Vocational Technical Academy in on-the-job culinary and foodservice training. The facility will also be available to other schools within the district.
Mayor Domenic J. Sarno states, “Sodexo has been a great corporate citizen. This unique collaborative approach not only enhances healthy food aspects for our students, but just as important, creates training and job opportunities too.”
In addition to its impact on SPS, the state-of-the-art facility will create employment for 40 new positions and construction will mean many short-term jobs as the comprehensive facility is built.
Superintendent of Schools Daniel Warwick said the district’s partnership with Sodexo has been “extraordinary.”
“We are so lucky to have such an innovative, committed partner in Sodexo,” said Warwick. “They do what is best for our children and continually seek out ways to do more. This new facility will be a capstone and testament to their commitment to Springfield students and the community. They are a true partner that is willing to go the extra mile.”
The erection of the new facility carries a price tag of $21 million and Sodexo has already pledged $100,000 towards the project. In addition, Sodexo will also provide in-kind service in helping to design the new culinary center. The City of Springfield has utilized a capital bond contributing $7 million to the overall cost of building of the facility.