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The Evolution of the School Lunch: Data Visualization

Data and Information Visualization (2014) 
Data Research, Visual Communication Design, Illustration, Introductory Website Coding
University of Washington


Data and Information Design can be a powerful storytelling tool. This project required that students not only find the story they wanted to tell within their topics, but also to utilize data sets to help tell that story. It was a truly fascinating experience. Many designers are not used to wading through mounds of data, but in the end it enriches the entire experience for the audience.

While the National School Lunch Program has been under scrutiny as of late (First Lady Michelle Obama, a champion for healthier meals in schools, recently came under fire when students tweeted their awful looking school lunches under #thanksmichelleobama), and there certainly are issues, I felt it necessary to first introduce my audience to the Herculean job and process of trying to feed so many students in the U.S. on a daily basis. I used data sets to explain how many students are actually being fed per day, how the NSLP is single handedly dealing with a hunger issue in the U.S., and then to explain how funding is appropriated for this federal program.

While this project is currently “finished” I am looking forward to working on it again with even more data and looking deeper into the funding process and how high-level decisions trickle down to affect different schools across the country. To view the full website, accompanying poster, and data sources, please click here.

School Lunch: Data & Information Visualization