Nurturing healthy lifestyles in Jennings

Serving more than 3,000 students and their families, the Jennings School District in North St. Louis County works to ensure that student needs are met – both inside and outside the classroom. The Jennings Community Garden and raised-bed gardens at the high school are prime examples of serving students and their families in a unique and innovative way. The gardens serve as a working backdrop for hands-on, life-long learning and valuable resource to provide the community with fresh, healthy, free produce. 

To help the district prepare for the growing season, Spire employee-volunteers built the structure of a greenhouse at the Jennings Community Garden at Gary Gore Community Center and made other garden improvements such as rebuilding raised beds and preparing beds for soil and planting at the high school. The volunteer effort was part of Spire’s annual Day for Good initiative, which provides employees eight hours annually to support an organization or cause of their choice. 


greenhouse structure building


Jennings school building planter beds

The greenhouse build is just the start of a new project between Spire and the Jennings School District aimed at healthy lifestyle choices, including gardening. Spire has been working with the district to create a program to provide additional support, including the creation of a mentoring program for junior high school students and support of the St. Louis Area Foodbank’s food distribution program and food pantry at the Jennings Educational Training School. 

“This is an opportunity to provide a hands-on learning space for students, which we hope will lead to healthy eating and cooking,” said Justin Lopinot, director of employee communications and community impact. “We are thrilled about this opportunity to support local students and to help them make positive changes and lead a healthy lifestyle.” 

"We want to take this tremendous opportunity to say thank you to Spire for its support to the St Louis community. Although this is one of many district projects that Spire supports, this is a major accomplishment for the Jennings community,” said Dr. Paula D. Knight, Superintendent of Schools, Jennings School District. “We know school gardens can make lasting differences in the lives of children. The lessons taught through these outdoor learning laboratories transcend gardening to impact children, their families and entire communities for years to come.”

And work continues. More volunteer projects are being planned for the future, including completing the greenhouse build. 


Jennings project working on tables