Focus Area:Early Childhood EducationPreschool Food & Healthy Habits

Preschool Food & Healthy Habits

The Orfalea Foundation is addressing the negative impacts of poor eating and inadequate physical activity among young children in Santa Barbara County.

Early childhood centers, in which thousands of children spend 6-10 hours a day, can contribute to solving this problem by making educated decisions about food and activities.

Orfalea’s Preschool Food Initiative (PFI) works with directors, teachers, kitchen staff and parents to improve life outcomes for children.  The vision for PFI is to create new norms for food and physical activity practices in Santa Barbara County centers. (View or download the PreSchool Food summary flyer)

During the initial phase of the project in 2011, participating centers completed a 50+ item baseline measurement, the PFI Matrix (XLS download), and created goals for improvement in their:

  • Food Quality Standards
  • Feeding Practices
  • Food Purchasing and Acquisition
  • Staff Training
  • Education of Children
  • Physical Activity
  • Food Literacy
  • Gardens
  • Parent and Family Communication

Based on these measures, centers earn four levels of achievement:  Participating, Developing, Intermediate and Advanced.

Centers interested in participating in the Preschool Food & Healthy Habits Initiative can contact Theresa Embry( for more information and to register for future events.