Giving Our Students the Delicious and Dignified Dining Experience They Deserve
San Francisco Unified School District
Over the last decade, San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD)’s Student Nutrition Services (SNS) department reimagined school food within a system full of complexity, challenges, and inequities. In 2011, many students in San Francisco were choosing not to eat at school, even if they were hungry. Facilities were out of date, meals didn’t match the culture or taste of the students, and there wasn’t a welcoming place for them to gather. In 2012-2013, the Student Nutrition Services (SNS) department came together with IDEO and support from the Someland Foundation to reimagine the student dining experience. What emerged from collaboration with hundreds of students, families, SNS Dining Staff, community members, and policy makers was a vision for change that began a decade-long journey to transform the school food system. Fast forward a decade, and 74 San Francisco schools have redesigned cafeterias with local design firm Atelier Cho Thompson, with space for 38,000 students—74% of the student body—to thrive. Students are eating foods they know and like in spaces they love. Several schools have new kitchens providing freshly prepared meals. SNS elevated student voice, involving students’ perspectives in menu creation, cafeteria design, and school food policy and advocacy. SNS’s approach — inclusive, equity-minded, and systems-oriented — represents how design can drive toward a better world.