About Food for Thought Ojai

About Food for Thought Ojai

Food for Thought (FFT) was organized by a group of concerned parents, educators and growers who first came together in the spring of 2002 to improve the nutritional status and food awareness of children in the Ojai Unified School District (OUSD).

With the help of our committed staff, board, volunteers and donors, our program has helped to raise awareness of the importance of healthy childhood nutritional practices, and the integral role of agriculture in our community, encouraging students to reconnect to the land and environment that sustains them.

FFT has developed five inter-related program components with associated curricula that integrate California State Academic Standards. These program components are: 1) nutrition education, 2) garden-based learning, 3) agricultural literacy through farm field trips, and 4) advocating for fresh, local, seasonal produce in all school meals. The fifth and newest component, the “5Rs” (reduce, reuse, recycle, rot and rethink!) focuses on minimizing the ecological footprint of the OUSD by minimizing landfill waste, reducing use of toxic chemicals, efforts to conserve energy and water and paper and other resources.

FFT also conducts a number of free community events, including “Films for Thought”, a series of films on sustainable agriculture, food, and environmental concerns. FFT’s comprehensive program was the fourth farm-to-school program to develop in California, was one of the first to be listed as part of Slow Food USA’s “Slow Food in Schools” program and handbook, andhas served as a model for a number of other school districts. There are now hundreds of similarprograms across the United States.

In 2006, FFT became a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. The combined skills and expertise of its current Board of Directors includes farming, environmental science, education, nutrition, accounting, business, medicine, gardening, and law. To sustain our efforts, FFT relies on foundation grants, fundraising events, and individual contributions in addition to the dedication of our board, staff and volunteers.

Our Board


  • Theresa Bulla-Richards, Board President, Educator
  • Jim Churchill, Co-founder and past Board President
  • Andrew Cantwell, Parent, OUSD Superintendent
  • Christina Esp, Parent
  • Dr. Helen Petroff, Board Secretary, Parent
  • Carrie Johnson, CA State Parks Program Director, Parent
  • Mary Jo McLeod, Community Member
  • Karen Schmidt, Exec. Director SOAR, Parent
  • David Sinclair, Community Member
  • Kirsten Martinez, Board Treasurer, Parent

Past Directors


  • Marty Fujita
  • Claud Mann
  • Larry Yee
  • Kevin Ruf
  • Cari Guerrero
  • Dave Bettles
  • Susan Speer
  • Timothy Teague
  • Betty Vargas
  • Rochelle Wilson
  • Jim Bailey
  • Becky Beckett
  • Sage Essick
  • Steve Fields
  • Gale Leftkowitz
  • Kelly Mays
  • Gillian McManus
  • Jeri Oshima
  • Linda Phillips
  • Heidi Whitman
  • Kim Bastian
  • Katherine Zackham
  • Bobbi Balderman
  • Cherie Beers
  • Mary Maranville
  • Rich Reid
  • Kevin White