For policymakers, school food is a major battleground. As designers, we knew we could bring something different to the conversation. We were challenged to redesign a cafeteria that saw tons of kids go without finishing their meals, despite serving the best food in the city.
With a grant from the Motorola Solutions Foundation and alongside a team of students from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, we created a community-driven research and design project to reimagine the school food experience.
This project helped us literally see the world from a child’s point of view.”
In two rounds of testing, we prototyped a new food service model that had lunchroom attendants bringing food directly to children in an effort to reduce time wasted in line and give kids greater ability to choose their food. To determine whether this effectively reduced food waste, we weighed kids’ lunch-tray leftovers before and after implementation. We saw a 13% increase in vegetable consumption!
During our five-day test, kids told us how much they loved the new service. They ate more food overall and consumed more balanced meals with less fuss. Now proposals are underway for a larger pilot of this process, in partnership with Lurie Children’s Hospital.
Special thanks to our incredible SAIC student design team: Kristen Campbell Hansen, Hsi Chen, Janice Cho, David Evancho, Tamara Novikova Andreevna, Meghan Quinn and Eli Sidman.