Focus Area:EducationSchool Food Initiative

School Food Initiative

The School Food Initiative envisions the children of Santa Barbara County making healthy food choices throughout their lives. Visit the School Food Action blog

What did you eat for lunch today?

If you are a student in the United States, your answer is likely "Chicken nuggets, french fries, and chocolate milk." Even though many school districts make an effort to serve healthier school meals, the average student's lunch tray is filled with pre-packaged, highly processed foods that were prepared thousands of miles away, frozen, and then reheated on-site. If the school has a salad bar, it is likely filled with iceberg lettuce, packaged salad dressings, and canned vegetables. Unfortunately, all of the foods mentioned in this paragraph are acceptable components of a reimbursable school meal, according to current USDA standards.

Why do school meals matter?

Our children have not been eating well. One third of all children born after 2000 can expect to live a shorter life than their parents due to preventable, diet-related illness. Over-consumption of foods laden with sugar and fat diminishes their ability to focus during class time. Approximately one third of public school students in Santa Barbara County are overweight or obese. Excessive consumption of unhealthy food leads to both immediate and long term health complications and, ultimately, premature death.

What can we do to change the way that children eat?

School is a place of learning, not only from books, but also from experience and exposure. In this sense, we teach children how to eat for the rest of their lives through the meals we serve them during the school day. The School Food Initiative leads by example, empowering school districts in Santa Barbara County to implement and sustain nourishing cook-from-scratch food programs so that our children have access to the healthy food that they deserve.

Visit the School Food Action blog.

Visit the Workplace Wellness site: Project ACT

View or download the School Food Initiative summary flyer.

Components of the School Food Initiative include:

  • Culinary Boot Camp
    The School Food Initiative conducts week-long training events, called Culinary Boot Camps, for food service staff...
  • Farm to School
    School Food's Farm to School component connects local farmers with school kitchens. With an abundance of...
  • In-Service Culinary Support
    After a week of intensive training at Culinary Boot Camp, food service workers return to their kitchens inspired to...
  • Jr. Chef Day
    Jr. Chef Day cooking events were an early technique we used to bring food-based education into the elementary school...
  • FoodPlay
    The School Food Initiative funded FoodPlay Productions performances in participating elementary schools to teach...
  • Strategic Funding
    The School Food Initiative is uniquely positioned to support school districts and non-profit organizations in Santa...
  • School Gardens

    Gardens connect students to the food they eat and the environment they live in, encouraging them to make healthy...