School Case Study:
Castelli International

How educating and empowering the youngest of eaters can create the demand for a more sustainable food system, one school meal at a time.

Before sharing our success story, Tribusana would like to thank Castelli International School (CIS) for opening their doors and allowing us to try something new and engaging so that we could inspire a real sense of “healthy tribe” within their school’s community. Not all schools provide such a supportive and flexible environment or philosophy. 

So we are most grateful!

School Meal Transformation: The Challenge

School Meal Transformation: The Challenge

The school was struggling to address a long-standing issue: replacing processed foods with more nutrient-dense whole foods in their lunch program. The goal was to achieve this transition while minimising food waste each day in order to fully align with the school’s core value:

“To develop inquisitive, caring, well-rounded individuals who will make a positive impact towards creating a sustainable global society.”

School Meal Transformation: The Timeline

In 7 months, we facilitated a total of 11 workshops to help kids and parents get on board with healthy eating.
Here’s a quick overview of the process:

Swipe to see each stage of the process

October 2nd, 2023
Workshops for Students Begin
Workshops on Eating Real Rainbows for Students

5 separate workshops on Eating Real Rainbows for the children at Castelli International School in grades 1-8

October 17th, 2023
Follow Up Survey
Follow Up Survey to School Families

The school sent a follow-up survey to all families to understand their preferences.

March 19, 2024
Masterclass for Parents
Workshop for Parents

An evening masterclass for parents to appreciate the importance of a Mediterranean diet and learn simple strategies for implementing it at home and dining out, presented in a fun and inclusive manner.

April 12, 2024
Cooking Workshops Begin
Cooking Workshops for Students

Tribusana conducted five cooking workshops for students in Grades 2 to 8, teaching them to make hummus from various legumes and mix in vegetables to create colorful hummus.

May 10th, 2024
School Meal Replacement
School Meal Replacement

The catering company of the school served chickpea hummus with carrot and fennel sticks, instead of fish fingers, and the students widely accepted it with great joy and enthusiasm.

School Meal Transformation: The Process

Each phase of this transformation was essential to the end result of creating healthier school meals, less food wastage and getting all of the community on board.

1. Eating Real Rainbows Workshops

A small presentation was made alongside two video clips and a large basket filled with rainbow colored fruits and vegetables that the students could enjoy at the end of each workshop. 

Students were encouraged to try anything they had never seen before. Each student was also asked to bring their favorite (one) fruit and (one) vegetable to drive home the message that eating those fruits every day is not enough. 

Whole foods provide fiber but diversity and variety in their colors are equally as important to maintain a healthy diet, which according to a FAO report (March 2021) is defined as health promoting and disease preventing. 

At Tribusana, we like to add growth enhancing for children as well. 

2. Follow Up Survey to School Families

The school sent out a follow up survey to all the families of the school community to better understand their preferences and develop a feedback mechanism among the families, the school and the catering company to ensure that the school meals are a source of joy for everyone.

Although only 14% of the families responded, this was enough for the school and Tribusana to detect a troublesome behavioral pattern.

Families were expressing a preference towards processed foods in the current school menu (mainly chicken nuggets, fish fingers and white pasta) and a dislike towards whole food (such as lentils, spinach and swiss chards). 

When asked which foods they would like to see as part of the school menu, the response was: chicken wings, hamburgers, french fries and sushi.

This feedback supports the school’s long-standing real food versus food waste dilemmaIn the past, when they tried to replace processed foods with whole foods (such as fish filets instead of fish fingers or more legume dishes instead of white pasta), food waste was at its highest that day. And we suspect that this struggle is happening in other schools as well because there seems to be a general disconnect among the younger generations towards whole foods and diversity in color, and this is a symptom of a much larger societal problem.

What we think makes this case study worth sharing is that instead of seeing this outcome as a dead end, together we saw this as a real opportunity to educate, empower and spark a real sense of change in the behaviors and food preferences of the student population. 

But to do this successfully, we knew we had to take on a school-wide approach and get everyone involved, including the parents and the teachers.


3. Masterclass on Eating Real Rainbows for Parents

 Since the teachers participated in the workshops done with the students, Tribusana conducted a masterclass for the parents in the evening so that they could understand and appreciate the importance of adhering to a more Mediterranean diet (even in Italy!), and shared some simple strategies and tips on how to do this at home, as well as when dining out, in a fun and inclusive manner. 

The masterclass was recorded and shared with the entire school community, along with several recommendations on articles and books to read, and documentaries to watch so that everyone had the same level of understanding and appreciation for the Mediterranean Diet. 

Findings from the FAO/UNEP Sustainable Food Systems Report (Rome, 2015) that detail how the Mediterranean Diet significantly improves healthy outcomes, promotes food security and sustainability due to its lower environmental impact were also shared during the presentation.

4. Cooking Workshop For Students

These workshops focussed on the more practical side: how easy it is to make hummus from all types of legumes and how fun it is to mix in different vegetables (such as beetroot, roasted pumpkin, turmeric, spinach and blanched red cabbage) to turn the hummus into any color of the rainbow. 

In addition to Tahini, the students also learned how to make their own homemade nut and seed butters.  

By the end of each workshop, the students unanimously agreed to replace fish fingers with hummus and veggie sticks as part of the school lunch program to our wonderful delight!

School Meal Transformation: The Result

After 11 workshops with the whole school community, we were so happy to see the successful results of the programme!

Students Embrace Whole Foods at School Meals

The school’s catering company served chickpea hummus with carrot and fennel sticks instead of fish fingers, and the students enthusiastically embraced the change.

This highlights the importance of giving students ownership over such transformations.

By educating and empowering even the youngest eaters with simple cooking techniques, appreciation for colour and flavour, and a commitment to minimising food waste, they happily become the social change advocates we need to create a more sustainable food system—one school meal at a time!

Improve Meals at Your Child's School

Contact Florencia to learn more about how these workshops could be implemented in your child’s school

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