There is only one room in a school that brings in revenue every day – the cafeteria. Yet they are often an afterthought when designing or renovating a school. Not only can they be made into valuable, versatile spaces, but they can also be made into such an inviting place that they become a center for the community as a whole.
The traditional seating for a cafeteria is benches arranged like picnic tables. Making these easy to move with wheels and a folding design means the cafeteria can be used for many more purposes than just food.
That being said, new cafeterias are incorporating the seating elements you would see at a restaurant, such as booths and more comfortable materials. These make the space more inviting and provide another place for students to collaborate on their studies.
These days, restaurants tend to favor open kitchens that allow their diners to watch their food being made, engaging the customer in the experience. The same can be done in a cafeteria, with the added benefit of providing an educational experience at the same time.
Many schools have started gardens as a way to teach sustainability, science, and math concepts. Although it would take a schoolyard farm to feed 1,000 students, making fresh fruits and vegetables available to the cafeteria is a great way to demonstrate the food cycle from start to finish.
With more variety in the foods you serve comes the possibility for a food court and snack kiosks made available around campus. Both of these have the chance to increase revenue and provide a more modern feel to your school’s dining programs.
Just as classroom strategies and methods have been revolutionized in the past decade or so, so too has the concept of what a cafeteria and food service can mean to a school and, more broadly, the local community.
This article is a summary of “New Cafeteria Designs for Healthy, Productive Learning.” from our 2017 Projects by Design Idea Book.
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