Amid the clatter of the school cafeteria few stop to think “Who decided I should eat this?” but in recent years the contents of school lunches have been a hotly contested subject. Who decides what to put on plates in school cafeterias across New York City?

A group of students in Aisling Roche’s film studies class at the Academy of Urban Planning and Engineering (AUPE) worked with the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP) and CUP teaching artist Lindsay C. Harris to find out who makes decisions about school food at the school, city, state, and federal levels.

Students interviewed each other, school staff, family members, and professionals working in food justice and the Department of Education. Based on their responses, students designed school meals visualizing the factors considered at each level. The meals became the faces of a set of 4 postcards, while the back features a food pyramid explaining each level in depth. 

Get your own postcard set here!

What People are Saying

“We investigated how we can change what food is served in the school cafeteria, we learned who makes the menu, and we learned who pays for the food.” – Brandon Benitez, student

Resources & Links

The Academy of Urban Planning and Engineering (AUPE) is a public school in Bushwick with an urban planning theme-based curriculum.

The Office of School Foods is committed to promoting healthy food choices amongst NYC students and maintaining high nutritional standards while offering delicious and satisfying menu choices.

WhyHunger is a leader in building the movement to end hunger and poverty by connecting people to nutritous affordable food and by supporting grassroots solutions that inspire self reliance and community empowerment

Funding Support

This project was made possible by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

Special Thanks

Beatrice Beckford (WhyHunger) and Chef Jorge Collazo (The Office of School Food)


  • CUP
  • Teaching Artist
  • Lindsay C. Harris
  • Project Lead
  • Valeria Mogilevich
  • Project Support
  • Pema Domingo-Barker
  • The Academy of Urban Planning and Engineering
  • Classroom Teacher
  • Aisling Roche
  • Students
  • Destiny Azcona, Brandon Benitez, Celeste Cartagena, Joshua Carter, Wendy Centeno, Yulma Cohetero, Alyssa Colon, Lhari Dolma, Tenzin Dolma, Yelisa Feliciano, Keiaira Greene, Nathalie Jordan, Jimmy Mendez, Diana Morocho, Janet Munoz, Jordan Nelson, Anthony Parilla, Mayra Perez, Hortencia Reyes Lucero, Jennifer Santana, Melanie Santos, Kenia Tapia, Sharea Walker