Design Tips for School Cafeterias

Research shows that cafeteria design can go a long way in getting children to eat their fruits and vegetables

Design Tips for School Cafeterias

Cafeteria design can go a long way in getting children to eat their fruits and vegetables, say Cornell researchers.


Display cases that allow healthier foods to be featured at eye level, or more prominently, increase quality food consumption. Even factors like noise, crowding, and long cafeteria lines may prompt children to choose “grab-and-go” foods instead of healthier options, say the researchers – all factors that can be taken into consideration when designing and laying out cafeterias.


Cornell researchers offer the following design tips for school cafeterias:


  • Relocate vending machines farther from the cafeteria.
  • Put the salad bar in a convenient location where students will walk by.
  • Increase the amount of lighting on healthy food items to make them seem more appetizing.
  • Create and hang signage to promote healthy food options.
  • Add a stereo system or jukebox next to healthier food items to attract kids and make them want to stay there.
  • Choose freezers with opaque covers so children can’t easy see what’s inside (ice cream).
  • Decorate cafeteria walls with cool pictures and posters that encourage healthy eating.

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