The school, alongside the family and home-life, is the first place where children encounter food, in all its forms. During snacktimes in class or lunches in the refectories, children experience increasingly complex forms of conviviality , of being at the table, of nourishment and managing food. Over time, their intellectual and physical growth is accompanied by greater freedom (from being spoon fed, to the independent use of the blanket) and by the encounter with more complex and organized concepts (from good table manners to respect for food). By understanding, accepting and discussing these aspects of daily life, an important part of a child’s development is achieved.
All this makes those places connected to food, become spaces where children have the opportunity to get in touch and understand fully the basic principles of a healthy relationship with food and water, as set out in the Milan Charter, part of the legacy of the Universal Exposition 2015: access to food, proper nutrition and correct information, fight against waste, separate collection for recycling and reuse of materials, ensuring sustainability in production processes
The project saw the organization of an educational path aimed at reinventing and innovating the furniture and lay-out, accesssories or utensils that are found daily in school canteens. In this way, giving children the opportunity to play, experience and experiment all along the different steps of the food process, thinking about their relationship with food and developing ideas to modify and transform it, to design and make the canteen their own, a place to build new skills and relationships: hence the idea of a competition in which pupils and young designers beome co-inventors and designers of new ideas able to innovate the canteen environment.
The project “Dire Mangiare Progettare” forged the collaboration between young designers and those who use and live these spaces; children and teachers. Primary school fourth graders, during a number of workshops organized in their schools, put forward ideas and concepts that were then proposed to young designers. It was up to each of them to develop one of these ideas, right up to the prototype stage: a half day co-design workshop, a meeting with the design professional and the class that developed the concept. This proved to be a fundamental moment for working together.
Once the projects had reached the required level of in-depth analysis they were then presented during events attended by the classes, the sponsors and the partners of the projects
The project “Dire Mangiare Progettare” took off in March 2016 thanks to the drive and collaboration of MCFLP, Associazione Amici Casa della carità and CURE – Creativity for Urban and Rural Empowerment. The project saw its first trial develop in May 2016, with the participation of four lower classes from three primary schools in Milan. Following this trial the project currently underway ( the 2016/2017 edition) involves a dozen second, third and fourth graders from primary school, together with the collaboration of educators, teachers and young designers, allowing for the questioning, reviewing and innovation of the school canteen environment, from the place settings to the chairs through to the furniture and furnishings
The Milan Center for Food Law and Policy has supported the initiative following two guidelines:
- taking action to raise awareness among young people about the right to food and the importance of food policies as a requisite of regulation and protection of health, both in and out of school;
- develop activities and projects that help children understand and filter the messages they receive on a daily basis about their nutrition and diet in order to make them more independent and confident to make the right choices to protect themselves