Saturday, May 31, 2014

a cafeteria designed for me: IDEO reinvents the school food system

Brilliant ideas on how to reinvent the school lunch from designboom.  It can be done, even in MCPS.

From designboom:

imagine, that you’re back in 8th grade. having pre-ordered your lunch online the night before, you grab a brown bag from the rolling cart—no lines. your lunch is fresh, as it’s been sourced from local suppliers and cooked in a communal kitchen. you and your friends devour it on beanbags. on your way out, you pick up a dinner kit for your family. according to IDEO and SFUSD, that’s how they imagine a typical school lunch.

the lunch experience introduces topics such as central warehouse & local sourcing, space renovation, dinner kits, community kitchen and even smart meal technology into the system redesign. to learn more on the initiative, see here.

working together with the san francisco unified school district, IDEO developed recommendations for three age-appropriate dining experiences, from communal eating to student-designed spaces to new technology platforms. conceived to address the operational deficit, the system was developed as a robust business model—considering thousands of data points, like the cost-per-meal of a delivery truck route and where the ketchup was placed in cafeteria. federal, state, and local regulations were taken into account, as well as operational and labor constraints.

the team worked alongside more than 1,300 students, parents, union leaders, nutrition staff, board commissioners, principals, teachers, and community groups to create a better cafeteria experience.

smart meal technology
an interactive system enables students to pre-order meals, provide feedback, set dietary preferences, and learn about food. this generates data that makes the entire system more efficient and tailored. an integrated loyalty program rewards pupils for healthy choices.

central warehouse & local sourcing
a central warehouse enables SFUSD to source local, fresh, and diverse food for our middle and high schools and manage inventory centrally.

space renovation
each semester or once a year, groups of students get to redesign the cafeteria. sfusd can partner with local furniture suppliers and space planning companies to upgrade cafeteria spaces in middle and high schools.

dinner kits
student nutrition extends its offerings beyond school meals and taps into new sources of revenue. by being a member of the sfusd dinner program, students can pick up take-home meal kits equipped with all the ingredients and recipies needed to make a nutritious family dinner.


  1. There aren't kitchens in MCPS schools anymore. There are just warming stations that transfer food from the main kitchen warehouse to the schools.

  2. But it's an amazing idea. And I'm sure they'd love to propose offering it to a much larger school district (San Francisco is ranked 74th in enrollment, versus us at #18). The ideas address all of the issues noted as a problem by the federal government and get the kids engaged in eating the right kinds of food. What's not to like?

    1. Cost Space Equipment Resources


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