American restaurant chain sweetgreen has partnered with non-profit organisation FoodCorps to redesign school meals in the country.
Starting this school year, the restaurant chain will cover 15 cafeterias and 6,500 students in various schools located across Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, and Virginia.
The company will introduce taste testing models at cafeterias allowing students to try fruits and vegetables in different preparations.
The partnership will also introduce Flavor Bars to allow students to explore new food options and customise their meals with self-serve spices and sauces.
Students can also lead discussions and decisions around school lunch and the cafeteria through the School Cafeteria 2.0 concept, which uses project-based learning to allow students to enhance the cafeteria.
sweetgreen founder and CEO Jonathan Neman said: “There are over 100,000 school cafeterias in America, that’s seven times more than the number of McDonald’s in the US, meaning school meals play an incredibly powerful role in how 30 million kids connect to what they eat.
“Food served in schools offer a powerful opportunity to change the trajectory of the health of a generation.”
Based on the response received for the current partnership, the company will expand the pilot programmes to 50 schools during the 2020-21 school year.
As part of the deal, FoodCorps has received $1m funding from sweetgreen to support its pilot programmes.
FoodCorps co-founder and CEO Curt Ellis said: “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.
“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.”
Launched in 2007, sweetgreen currently operates 97 restaurants with more than 4,000 employees working across its operations to serve customers.
In June, sweetgreen acquired meal delivery service Galley Foods to support its operations.