Cafeteria Revival Checklist

Your school cafeteria could be a more comfortable, functional, and inviting space that promotes inclusivity and enhances the overall experience for students, staff, and other members of the school community

Use this checklist to assess your cafeteria and identify ways to improve the space

Make your cafeteria comfortable and functional

  1. Is there enough table space and seating arrangements for all students including those with special needs?

    • Some cafeterias are simply too small for the student population. In these cases, are there other places to eat your lunch on school property (e.g. picnic tables in the courtyard, tables and benches in the school atrium)?
    • Try circular tables, chairs with high backs or tables with charging stations instead of or in addition to the usual long tables and attached benches
  1. Is there enough counter space and appliances for student use to heat up food (e.g. microwave ovens, toasters)?

    • Is there a process in place to ensure they are kept clean and in working order?
  2. Is water available for students to drink with their meals and snacks?

    • Consider providing self-serve jugs or pitchers of chilled drinking water and/or ensuring there are water bottle filling stations in or near the cafeteria.
  3. What is the noise level in the cafeteria? Too much noise may make the space unpleasant for eating or enjoying conversations with friends.

    • Can you reduce the notice level by adding sound-absorbing materials to walls and ceilings (e.g. drapes, baffles)
    • Some students may want quiet time during their lunch break.  If this is the case, can you make a quiet section or room?
  4. Is there adequate lighting?

    • Ensure there is enough light from windows or overhead lighting to create a bright and cheerful atmosphere.
  5. Are there enough garbage bins and is there a process for emptying filled bins and/or replacing garbage bags?

  6. Is there adequate air circulation so that the room temperature is comfortable and there are no offensive smells, especially around the cooking, reheating and garbage areas?

Make your cafeteria fun and inviting

  1. Is the cafeteria visually appealing and welcoming?

    • Ensure the walls are clean and undamaged. 
    • Are there pieces of art, murals and/or posters on the walls? If not consider working with the Art Department to add some!
    • Bring in natural elements like plants or an indoor mini-garden
    • Consider playing music to create a calm and enjoyable atmosphere
  1. Do students feel comfortable eating foods from their own culture in front of their friends?

    • Implement measures to address and prevent inappropriate behaviour and bullying.
  2. Is there an efficient process for students to get through the servery without long line-ups?

    • If not consider redesigning the area, having multiple lunch periods, or having additional staff (or student volunteers) behind the server.
    • If food is available for sale, ensure the prices are affordable and/or subsidized so all students can access without stigma.
  3. Are there interactive activities in the cafeteria during the lunch period?

    • Invite different student groups to host activities such as trivia, board games or puzzles
    • Create food-themed days (e.g. cultural or type-of-food days (taco, pasta, meatless, etc. ))
    • Host a karaoke or rap contest
    • Work with the food service team to host recipe contests and taste-testing events
    • Set up a charging station for students
    • Install a whiteboard on the wall for group problem-solving or sharing positive messages

For inspiration check out our Pinterest