Over 150 administrators, teachers, parents, food service managers, students, vendors, and service providers gathered at the Alisal Guest Ranch on October 8 for the second School Wellness Summit, hosted by the Orfalea Foundation and the School Wellness Council.
Designed to support those working to make schools centers of health and wellness, this year’s School Wellness Summit included expert speakers, panel discussions, fast-pitch presentations, grant awards, and closing remarks by County Supervisor Salud Carbajal.
After a networking breakfast and opening remarks by Orfalea Foundation School Food Initiative Director Kathleen de Chadenèdes, keynote speaker Katherine Hawksworth of California Project LEAN addressed the group on the value of crafting a customized District Wellness Policy. She cited examples from around the state of school districts that turned ideas into action by incorporating aspirations into simple policy statements.
After Holly Carmichael Djang of Evaluation Specialists walked the group through the design of assessment tools currently in use to evaluate the work of the School Food Initiative, the first panel of the day took the stage to discuss how to get adults – specifically teachers, staff, and parents – on board for a more effective wellness policy and more robust wellness committee.
The panel, which triggered a lively audience discussion, was followed by a Resource Showcase introducing attendees to wellness programs available to schools at low or no cost. Speakers included Sharon Cech of the California Farm to School Network, who described the many ways schools can connect with local agriculture; Stephanie Lip of the Monterey Peninsula USD, who shared her experience promoting California Thursdays; and Kristie Middleton of The Humane Society, who described the rise of Meatless Monday as a way to introduce kids to the great variety of delicious vegetarian options available in school cafes.
During lunch, attendees chose from 14 discussion tables, with topics ranging from “Successfully Implementing Recess Before Lunch” to “Advancing Food Literacy for Jr. High Students with STRIDE’s Pink & Dude Chefs Program.” Immediately afterward, five applicants vying for two $5,000 grants pitched their programs to the group. One grant was to be awarded based on popular vote, and another by decision of the School Wellness Council. As it turned out, the popular vote was a tie, so the School Food Initiative elected to award three grants instead of two. Winners of the grants were Adam Elementary School, for a “Farm to Fork” program; Cabrillo High School, for installation of hydration stations, and San Marcos High School, for the PEAC Wellness Program. Closing remarks were delivered by County Supervisor Salud Carbajal, who praised the group for their vision and congratulated them on their accomplishments.
Sponsors of the event included Lompoc Valley Medical Center, Cottage Children’s Medical Center, Mattei’s Tavern, Kids Network Santa Barbara County, The Berry Man, Inc., Whole Foods Market, Harvest Santa Barbara, CenCal Health, Santa Barbara County Education Office, Alisal Guest Ranch, and the Orfalea Foundation.