A few years ago, only 57% of San Francisco public school students who were eligible for free or reduced-price lunches used the program. Changing up the menu didn’t seem to help. Now school officials are seeing if improving the physical environment will change that.
With help from a foundation, the district hired a design firm to come in and assess the cafeteria environment. And the ideas coming out of that may create eating spaces that better meet the social and developmental needs of different age groups.
“In elementary school, the idea is to have students dine family-style at round tables, each with an adult leader. Meals will arrive in courses, on carts similar to those found in dim-sum restaurants. And children will take turns as table captains, responsible for seeing that everyone has enough food and for cleaning up—a system inspired by Japanese school lunchrooms. When the project team tried out these ideas at an elementary school in the summer of 2013, kids were enthusiastic.”
Will creating a better eating environment translate into more students participating in the lunch program? Check back.