Connecting kids to farms and gardens for a better understanding of where REAL food comes from.

Currently, the Orfalea Foundation Early Childhood Education (ECE) team is focused on five measures of whole child quality at local centers: Food Quality, Physical Activity, Hydration, Gardens, and Recycling. While the first three are obviously related to child health and wellness, gardens and recycling may seem like odd choices for evaluating an early education center. In fact, these two elements are components of food and environmental literacy, which makes them essential to both wellness and good citizenship. The Orfalea Foundation’s Whole Child philosophy includes the idea that a well-educated and well-nurtured individual grows able to care for him- or herself, care about family and community, and take care with our society’s  future. 

Play and time in gardens builds an essential connection between children and the source of their food. Children who understand where food comes from are less suspicious of new foods and more curious.  They also develop a taste for healthy fare, and we believe this bodes well for turning the tide on our nation’s juvenile obesity epidemic. Likewise, recycling habits play a role in connecting children to their community and environment.

Recycling and environmental understanding are modeled through a preschool's commitment to durable rather than disposable cups, dishes, and utensils.

Centers with rigorous recycling practices and a commitment to durable rather than disposable cups, dishes, and utensils set a good example for parents and children alike. And leading by example is critical. As novelist James Baldwin observed, “Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.”  By presenting recycling, gardening, healthy eating, frequent hydration, and physical activity as normative behaviors, centers with whole child practices help children establish healthy habits that will last a lifetime.

Preschools with limited space find creative ways to grow food with kids.

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About Early Childhood Education

Since the year 2000, the Orfalea Foundation has been committed to improving the life outcomes for young children through high quality early education. In Santa Barbara County, there are more than 170 early education centers in which thousands of young children spend 6-12 hours a day. These centers hold a key to the healthy development of our children. READ MORE

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