IDEO recently took on a particularly picky client: Kids. More specifically, kids who should be eating school lunches on the regular, but weren’t.
The San Francisco Unified School District hired the design firm (through a donation from the Sarah & Evan Williams Foundation) last spring to answer a nagging, persistent question: How do you get kids to eat lunch at school, and get them to do so consistently?
This was a big problem. The district has more than 55,000 students attending 114 schools. Nearly 60 percent of them qualify for free or reduced lunch, but only 60 percent qualifying students were taking advantage of it. Only around 40 percent of all students were eating the lunches on a regular basis. It was a wasted opportunity, and an expensive one at that. “The school district was running a huge operation at what ended up being a deficit because kids weren’t really participating,” says Sandy Speicher, an associate partner at IDEO.