Reimagining School Lunches

Reimagining School Lunch Innovation Lab (updated 4/10/2020):


This initiative has been updated to reflect our current world situation and course of action. It is now: Reimagining School Lunch and the Rest of Your World, Too!


Initially, the ‘Reimagining School Lunch' (RSL) series was created as an opportunity for us to take a step back and really look at the current school lunch system. It’s about working together, building allies, and utilizing an innovative process where we can collaborate on a shared vision of making a difference in the school lunch system in our valley and in our state.  With the assistance of workshop participants engaged in the process and by creating a space of listening, connecting, and understanding, new ideas and insights can emerge.  Much amazing work has been done to get local food in our schools, and there is still so much potential for re-thinking how we feed our kids.

Fast forward to today, a time of great global disruption.  Now more than ever the tools and ideas we can use to reimagine how we feed our kids can be used to help us Reimagine Our Whole World!!  


What is happening now?!  Reimagining School Lunch and the Rest of Your World, Too has pivoted into a monthly on-line series of mini-retreats aimed at building participants’ capacity to be present, grounded, and open as innovators, creative thinkers, community builders, and as world citizens.  


The first mini-retreat will be held (virtually via Zoom) on Friday, April 17th from 4-6 PM and again on Saturday, April 18th from 10 AM-noon (see access detail in the blue sidebar t to the right under virtual mini-retreats).  Join one of these Free sessions and let yourself be inspired to connect to your core, connect to the future of possibilities, and to step into our collective new way of being in the age of pandemic!


We will return to our Innovation Lab series focused specifically on school lunch in October.  In the meantime, we invite you to engage now, grow your personal capacity, and be a part of the emerging future as we reimagine it together!


Background: The Reimagining School Lunch Innovation Lab started as a 4-part series.  The first piece was held Saturday, November 2, 2019, at the Bitterroot River Inn in Hamilton, Montana.  Part One helped us discover how our current system works.  It included getting to know about the silos each of the stakeholders in the current system works within, as well as learning how to use sensing tools to discover more over the winter leading up to our next gathering. The second part was to be held April 17-18 as a retreat-style event and has been rescheduled for October 16-17 at Sleeping Child Hot Springs. There we will reconnect, gather the learning that was done over the year, cluster around idea areas, and begin to prototype new school lunch ideas. Parts three and four, later in the year, will look at the lessons learned and opportunities arising from the prototypes.  


The original end goal remains: reimagining how to have all Montana grown foods served for school lunches in the Bitterroot Valley, and then across Montana. The facilitation of the events uses tools from Theory-U, a social theory process that is part of the Presencing Institute (, developed at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and modeled after a successful initiative to transform the food system in Brazil.  This initiative formed out of a 5-part inquiry and innovation lab facilitated in early 2019 called Building A Stronger Bitterroot. This process is a way to look at challenges in our community and engage in societal innovation.


This Innovation Lab process is funded from a grant to the Ravalli County Economic Development Authority from the MT Dept. of Agriculture, designating them as a Food and Ag Resource Center and supporting this project.  MT Department of Ag will receive the information learned from the events and the prototypes as deliverables for the grant.  Laura Garber, Director of Cultivating Connections & Kris Byer are leading the design and facilitation of this event series, with the assistance of a volunteer planning committee, and with coaching from the Presencing Institute.  

History to the Project

Marian Goodman Zoom Call image.jpg

Global models and coaching resources


We've had the honor of working with Marian Goodman of the Presencing Institute. Marian participated with a Lab process in Brazil from 2015-2017 using the models from Theory U to look at their food system and ultimately transforming & making lasting change across the country. With Marian's permission we share the October 2, 2019 recorded zoom video call where she talks about the history and impacts of their project in Brazil. Approximately 40 min. in length.

Marion's Power Point of the Sensing Journey process click here to download PDF file (10.6 MB)

Building a Stronger Bitterroot

A community roundtable series, using the Theory U framework, was held in early 2019 in Hamilton, Montana. Local community members came together to discuss the valley and how to create a more resilient economy. The Reimagining School Lunch series derived from this initial exploration.

You can read more about this previous event from this March 19, 2019 article in the local paper:

The Theory-U process reports for the Building a Stronger Bitterroot series can be read here:


Join us monthly for the virtual mini-retreats via Zoom. See the details and topic of each month's "retreat" below.


RSL Part 2 at Sleeping Child Hot Springs has been moved to October 16-17, 2020.

Upcoming Events:

Virtual mini-retreats// May 22 & 23, 2020

Insight & Inspiration

Virtual mini-retreats held via Zoom.

Space is limited to seven participants per day for this event. 

Join Laura for this two-hour mini-retreat. We will practice the  'Group Case Clinic'. This small group activity can offer insight and inspiration, is fun and interesting, and will help you build special bonds with other participants. 

To prepare for the event, please Observe the ups and downs of the week. Watch how you are dealing with them. Watch your emotional reactions to the cycles. You will get to share your observations, couching it in a specific story from your week.

Sign up below to reserve your space.

Session #1: Friday, May 22nd from 5-7pm

access link TBA, please check back

Session #2: Saturday, May 23rd from 5-7pm

Virtual mini-retreats// June 12 & 13, 2020

Topic TBA

Virtual mini-retreats held via Zoom.

Session #1: Friday, June 12 

access link TBA, please check back

Session #2: Saturday, June 13

access link TBA, please check back

Virtual mini-retreats// July 17 & 18, 2020

Topic TBA

Virtual mini-retreats held via Zoom.

Session #1: Friday, July 17th 

Session #2: Saturday, July 18th 

Virtual mini-retreat// August 14 & 15, 2020

Topic TBA

Virtual mini-retreats held via Zoom.

Session #1: Friday, July 17th 

Session #2: Saturday, July 18th 

Part Two // October 16-17, 2020

Learning & Prototyping

Held at Sleeping Child Hot Springs, Part Two will gather the learning done over the winter & spring, cluster around the idea areas and begin to formulate prototypes. To participate in Part Two you must have attended Part One + complete one of the homework items. If you were unable to attend Part One then we ask you to complete two homework items in order to attend. See Part One resources above. Our volunteer committee can review the packet & process with you.

Part Three & Four // December 4-9, 2020 

Learning & Prototyping 

Continuing the process of listening, gathering information and prototyping.

Previous Events & Resources:

PART ONE // November 2, 2019

=Discover & Sensing=

Looking at how the current school lunch system works. Discovering who are the allies and stakeholders in the current system. Learning tools to explore the system.

April's virtual mini-retreat// April 17 & 18, 2020

=Reconnect & Ground=

A virtual mini-retreats held via Zoom.

Together we explored the Theory-U tools for discovery, understanding, stillness, creativity, and prototyping new ways of being in our world.  Participants will leave this free virtual retreat with tools to create a personal vision for reimagining themselves, their whole world, and how we feed our kids!

Session #1: Friday, April 17th  from 4-6 PM

Session #2: Saturday, April 18th from 10 AM-Noon 

school lunch invitation for 11.2.19.jpg
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