Santa Barbara Unified School District Food Service Manager Nancy Weiss with Orfalea Foundation co-founder Natalie Orfalea.

Santa Barbara Unified School District Food Service Manager Nancy Weiss with Orfalea Foundation co-founder Natalie Orfalea.

Attendees of the second annual School Wellness Summit on October 8 returned from their lunch break eager to hear from five finalists vying for two $5,000 grants from the Orfalea Foundation School Food Initiative. Each finalist would have five minutes to explain how the funds would help them achieve a greater culture of health and wellness at their school or district.
One winner was to be chosen by the School Wellness Council, which was established to promote campus health and wellness initiatives and to host future School Wellness Summits. The other winner would be selected through a vote of the attendees.
As fate would have it, the vote ended in a tie. As fate would also have it, Orfalea Foundation Chair and Co-Founder Natalie Orfalea was in the audience, and made a quick executive decision that rather than splitting the audience award, the School Food Initiative would double it – allowing both audience favorites to pursue their projects with full funding.
According to School Food Initiative Director Kathleen de Chadenèdes, “I was really impressed with the caliber of the thirteen original proposals; they showed real innovation and clearly explained what they were going to do, how they would do it, and how success would be measured. A stipulation of the grant is that the winners must return to the 2016 School Wellness Summit to report on their progress, so these grants will provide a learning experience for all of us.”
Congratulations to all three winners of the 2015 School Wellness Summit Fast Pitch Competition:

Jennifer Filpko

Jennifer Filipko captivates the audience; no small task with a giant squid in the background.

PEAC Wellness Program 
San Marcos High School, Santa Barbara School District
Presenter: Jennifer Filipko

The program will educate, motivate, and provide students the essential skills needed to develop a healthy lifestyle. Including physical fitness, nutrition education, goal setting development skills, and classroom setting improvements, the wellness program will be integrated into the existing AVID/PEAC sophomore class and managed by their teacher, Jennifer Filipko. The goal is to educate the staff about ways to include at least 10 minutes a day of fitness, relaxation, or wellness approaches into their own classes, to promote wellness school-wide so that it becomes part of the school and district culture.

Laurie Graack's passion for her students was palpable.

Laurie Graack’s passion for her students was palpable.

Farm to Fork
Adam Elementary, Santa Maris-Bonita School District
Presenter: Principal Laurie Graack

Students and staff at Adam Elementary have identified a school Farm to Fork project as a priority for promoting school wellness and healthy lifestyle choices. Research indicates that students who plant, grow, tend and harvest their own produce are more likely to sample and consume vegetables. This project would include constructing a garden-to-cafeteria area certified by the Santa Barbara County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office. Adam Elementary in Santa Maria serves over 1,000 students, with over 90% meeting requirements for the free and reduced school meals program.  The desired outcomes are increased vegetable consumption by Adam Elementary students and staff, increased garden-enhanced nutrition education, and support of the district school wellness policy.  The funding will be used to construct a garden-to-cafeteria plot and establish certification.  Additionally, funds will be used to promote the garden-to-cafeteria effort and create awareness and pride among students about where their food comes from.

Cora Pickles and Maha Gul made certain attendees knew they represented their school's aquarium.

Cora Pickles and Maha Gul, shown here with Chris Hanson, made certain attendees knew they represented their school’s aquarium.

Hydration Stations
Cabrillo High School, Lompoc Unified School District
Presenters: Students Cora Pickles and Maha Gul

A 2010 UCLA Public Health study found that 48.6 % of Lompoc children are overweight or obese – 10% higher than the rest of the county and 13th highest in California.  Only 15% of Lompoc fifth graders passed the six physical fitness tests administered to all fifth graders annually. Sugary beverages are a leading culprit in the obesity epidemic, yet there is limited promotion for and access to purified, refrigerated water at Cabrillo High School. LUSD has already shifted from sugary beverages by adopting a district-wide wellness policy and eliminating their sale on school property. However, increasing access to water has been a larger challenge.  This grant will facilitate the installation of two stations; one at the CHS Aquarium and one in the CHS Cafeteria. The Aquarium will also use its station during elementary school tours to promote healthy living and environmental stewardship. The 1600 students and staff at Cabrillo High School (LUSD’s largest campus) will benefit from both stations, particularly the cafeteria, where 95,273 healthy meals were served last year.
The Aquarium’s station will serve the 6,000 students, adults, and families touring the facility year-round. The addition of these stations will produce two significant impacts to Cabrillo High School and the surrounding community: First, they will continue to develop a culture of healthy living across the campus as students and staff members utilize the stations on a daily basis. Second, the station in our unique Aquarium will impact the community as student tour guides use it in elementary tours and open house events to tout both the benefits of proper hydration and the importance of reducing plastic waste that too often finds its way to the ocean.