Big QuestionsOur work related to complex challenges.

The Challenge

Create a welcoming environment for kids to encourage them to eat lunch.


The design has been rolled out in a number of schools in San Francisco.


A complete, student-centered school lunch redesign.

To bring students healthy food at school, San Francisco Unified School District had already hired Revolution Foods, a caterer that serves some of the highest-nutrition meals in the nation. But when the lunch bell rang, 72 percent of those who could afford lunch weren’t showing up; students didn’t want to wait in the long lines or rush to finish, so they headed off-campus to eat.

Working alongside more than 1,300 students, parents, union leaders, nutrition staff, board commissioners, principals, teachers, and community groups, IDEO and SFUSD redesigned school lunch. Together, they developed recommendations for three age-appropriate dining experiences, from communal eating to student-designed spaces to new technology platforms, and worked to develop a robust business model.

In September 2013, the San Francisco Unified School Board expressed unanimous enthusiasm for IDEO’s work, clearing the path for this new vision of student-centered lunch to take root.

You can learn more about the cafeteria, and hear firsthand from the students, in this immersive, interactive story.

"A cafeteria designed for me" video.

Health and Wellness
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