Through a grant from the Motorola Solutions Foundation, and in partnership with the Academy for Global Citizenship, we taught a class at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago to redesign a public school cafeteria. Once we identified the issue of food waste, we focused on designing a space and service that encourages kids to eat. This project was recently awarded an Honorable Mention in the Redesigning the School Lunch Experience competition from Design In Public.

A special thanks to the student collaborators from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago: Ryan Beemsterboer, Hsi Chen, Janice Cho, Christopher Coffin, David Evancho, Sarah Hamzeh, Kristen Hansen, Zachary Hoffman, Daniel Jick, John Lee, Taylor Littrel, Tamara Novikova, Meghan Quinn, Jonathan Salud, Eli Sidman, Carissa Smith, Ting Zhou.

Opportunity

How might we encourage kids to eat well at school?

Inside the cafeteria, adults want kids to eat as much as possible, so they hurry them to the tables. But when kids are rushed through the lunch line, they often take trays of food they don’t like. That food ends up in the trash.

Strategy

Balanced meals

We designed a serving system called Courses. Kids skip the lunch line and go straight to the tables. Lunchroom attendants serve the four food items in separate bowls, timed 5 minutes apart.

In our testing, kids ate more balanced meals. Rather than just sticking to their favorite one or two things, they ate a little more of all four items presented. Plus, the new protocol allowed lunchroom attendants to spend more time interacting with kids - their favorite part of the job.

Outcomes