Eval Report Cover ImageAs part of its strategy to share what it has learned with the public and other philanthropists before sunsetting at the end of this year, the Orfalea Fund commissioned a comprehensive summative evaluation of its School Food Initiative, launched in 2007 to empower public school districts in Santa Barbara County to implement and sustain nourishing cook-from-scratch food service operations.

The research and analysis were conducted by Evaluation Specialists, which specializes in evaluation of prevention, health promotion, education, and social service programs.

Among the report’s findings:

Culinary Boot Camp was highly successful in improving the professionalism and culinary skills of food service personnel and helping them understand the school food system and their role within it. Food service personnel learned important professional content, including: food safety requirements, knife skills, recipe conversions, baking techniques, organization skills, and practices for enhancing positive team relationships. They also learned about their role in children’s health and in school food reform efforts more broadly. Implementation practices ensured that expectations related to school food reform were similar within schools and across district lines.

Kitchen equipment and infrastructure grants were highly successful in providing funding for specialized kitchen equipment and resources necessary to both make and deliver scratch cooking.

On-site targeted technical assistance by Chef Instructors was highly successful in providing technical assistance to food service personnel that improved their systems thinking, improved compliance and workflow efficiency, and helped them understand ways to balance the department budget. 

Efforts to improve school culture were highly successful in assisting districts in shifting school culture and wellness policies, by encouraging initiation and/or action of Wellness Committees.

Support of school-based food literacy programs, particularly school gardens, was successful in engaging students and school staff. School gardens, specifically, were instrumental in helping students connect the dots between where food comes from and the food they are offered at school.

The executive summary and complete report are available for viewing or download at www.OrfaleaFoundation.org/school-food-initiative.

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About the Orfalea Family Foundation and Orfalea Fund 

Founded in 2000 and sunsetting in 2015, the Orfalea Family Foundation funded and conducted innovative programs, helping the community’s families, educators, and policy-makers raise their expectations for what is possible. Seeking systemic change rather than perpetual charity, the limited-life Orfalea Fund was designed to achieve ambitious goals and sustainable results in a concentrated timeframe. Across its range of focus areas, including early childhood education, school food reform, scholarships, university partnerships, fellowships, in-school support, learning differences, youth development, critical community needs, and community enrichment, the foundation leveraged its founders’ and coworkers’ entrepreneurial experience to strengthen communities by empowering individuals. To learn more, visit www.OrfaleaFoundation.org.

About Evaluation Specialists

Evaluation Specialists is a woman-owned small business that specializes in evaluation of prevention, health promotion, education, and social service programs. Their experienced, highly skilled team provides methodological, substantive and clinical expertise that enables clients to apply a wide range of cutting edge methods to answer real world questions in community settings. Evaluation Specialists partners with clients to design and implement research and evaluation plans that provide timely, accurate, actionable results that benefit the communities served. For more information on Evaluation Specialists, please visit www.EvaluationSpecialists.com.