As our day of education, inspiration and camaraderie drew to a close, School Food Initiative Director Kathleen de Chadenèdes returned to the lectern to thank the attendees and discuss the future of the School Wellness Summit. As the School Food Initiative will sunset at the end of 2015, the Summit was designed for others to continue, and will become the responsibility of a ten-person School Wellness Council currently being formed. The Council will oversee both the Summit and a small pool of grant money for school wellness projects, and will become the nexus of information for school districts working on wellness topics. During 2015, the Orfalea Foundation School Food Initiative will maintain and expand www.SchoolWellnessSummit.org as a repository of information and resources until it can be taken on by the council.
de Chadenèdes also reminded the group about two 2015 events:
On February 28, at the Orfalea Foundation Downtown Center, The National Food Service Management Institute and the California Department of Education will offer a workshop on how to apply for the Healthier US School Challenge. The program offers both financial incentives and recognition for good work our local schools are already doing. de Chadenèdes urged Districts to choose someone outside of food service to lead the process, because campus health and wellness includes more than School Food.
In May, the Orfalea Foundation will host an Empowerment Showcase, a school food conference reuniting our Culinary Boot Camp attendees, and featuring workshops, speakers, and a “Clean Label Expo” to connect food service teams with high quality, sustainability-minded vendors.
We then heard closing remarks from SBCEO Deputy Superintendent Susan Salcido, who reminded us that Kathleen de Chadenèdes opened the day asking attendees to consider the new ideas they would hear throughout the day in the spirit of the original meaning of the word: “Sidere” is Latin for stars, so “consider” literally means “with the stars.” The Summit assembled some of the brightest stars in school health and wellness, who came together to guide one another. An apt analogy.
Time for reflection and consideration is not easy to come by in the public education universe, which Salcido compared to running a marathon and a series of sprints at the same time.
Salcido described the diverse geography and demographics of the County’s schools, which include twenty discreet districts which range from Cuyama to the east, Santa Maria to the north, Guadalupe to the west, and Carpinteria to the south (representatives from all four of these districts were in attendance). While there are many different challenges in these districts, and we are prone to focus on differences, the School Wellness Summit was devoted to our common challenges and solutions. “We share a common moral compass; an understanding that while we’re here to ensure student academic achievement, we’re also here to support the overall wellbeing of these kids.”
Immediately following the Summit, attendees received an online evaluation form, and here are some of the comments we received:
”It was great to hear about specific examples and collaboration.”
“Fantastic to hear of resources that are available to all schools, not just well-known or well-funded.”
“Understanding how marketing is both necessary and helpful in getting the idea of health and wellness out to school staff.”
“Appreciated hearing from a variety of stakeholders.”
“It was great that top leadership at school districts were cohosting.”
“Appreciated networking with other districts and finding resources other districts were using.”
The most frequent request on the survey was for more time to network, which is music to our ears here at the Orfalea Foundation, where much of our work depends on bringing diverse people and organizations together for large-scale problem-solving.
As we conclude this series on the 2014 School Wellness Summit, we extend many thanks to our Silver Sponsor CenCal Health, and gratefully acknowledge the support of SBCEO. We also thank our cohosts, Emilio Handall and Sid Haro. We are also grateful to our own Chef Instructor Kirsten Criswell, who thought the whole thing up, and Janet Stevenson and Claud Mann who worked with her to make it a reality.
We hope to see you at the 2015 School Wellness Summit!
Dean Zatkowsky is Communications Manager at the Orfalea Foundation.