Sweetgreen announced the next steps in its strategic partnership with FoodCorps to reimagine the school cafeteria experience, guide students to experiment with real food, and empower them to make healthier choices every day.

Starting this school year, the program will bring innovations to 15 cafeterias and 6,500 students in states across the country – Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, and Virginia, which all encompass a geographically and socioeconomically diverse set of students. Learnings from the pilot programs will inform the program’s expansion in the 2020-2021 school year to 50 schools, engaging over 20,000 elementary school students in the U.S.

Through this partnership, sweetgreen provided $1 million in funding to support FoodCorps and its pilot programs, which are built on a human-centered design study and leverages technology in 3 areas:

  • Tasty Challenges: Powered by behavioral science research, taste testing models let students try fruits + veggies in different preparations, then vote on their favorites. This model enables students to have direct input on their menu.
  • Flavor Bars: Kids can explore new tastes and customize their meals with self-serve spices and sauces. This provides an opportunity for students to make choices about their meal, explore new flavors, and become more connected to the cafeteria environment.
  • School Cafeteria 2.0: Students are empowered to lead discussions and decisions around school lunch and the cafeteria. This concept uses project-based learning to give students a voice in improvements to the cafeteria.

“There are over 100,000 school cafeterias in America — that’s seven times more than the number of McDonald’s in the United States — meaning school meals play an incredibly powerful role in how 30 million kids connect to what they eat,” says Jonathan Neman, co-founder and CEO of sweetgreen. “Food served in schools offer a powerful opportunity to change the trajectory of the health of a generation.”

Sweetgreen also connected with experts in food, nutrition and policy to weigh in on why school lunch matters and to help bring attention to the current state of food in schools to the forefront. Notable leaders include Deb Eschmeyer (social impact entrepreneur and former executive director of First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” Initiative), Sam Kass (Former White House chef and senior policy advisor for Nutrition, partner at Acre Venture Partners) and Dan Giusti (Founder of Brigaid, former executive chef at 1789 in Washington, D.C., and former head chef at Noma in Copenhagen).

“Cafeterias offer an extraordinary opportunity to nourish students, yet too often they lack the joyful, welcoming experience that gets kids excited about eating healthy food,” adds Curt Ellis, co-founder and CEO of FoodCorps. “Thanks to support from sweetgreen, FoodCorps is piloting an initiative to reimagine school cafeterias shaped by the voices of the very people who are impacted most by school food—the students.”

Furthering their commitment to healthy and nutritious food in schools, sweetgreen will donate $1 from every seasonal bowl to FoodCorps, Monday, September 16 through Sunday, October 13.

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