March 3, 3016
Chico-fil-A is offering free ice cream to families who use the “cell phone coop”
Food is for people, not phones.
But all too often, we’re caught staring at our screens during what is supposed to be a mindful, healthy meal.
A number of Chick-fil-A restaurants across the nation are working to change that with a little invention they call the cell phone coop:
For the cell phone coop “family challenge,” any party who leaves their silenced phones inside the specially marked box for their entire meal wins free ice cream cones at the end.
It’s a sweet, easy way to save customers from a sticky, scary problem: Research has shown that using phones during meals not only leaves you incapable of fully enjoying the food, but damages romantic relationships and contributes to feelings of depression when you’re socially snubbed by your partner. Plus, being distraction by a screen may cause you to eat more than you normally would. Then, of course, there’s the noise annoyance factor.
It’s all such a problem that some restaurants have gone so far as to offer 10 or even 50 percent off the bill for people who ignore their phones during dinner.
Chick-fil-A’s challenge “has completely taken off,” said Brad Williams, who came up with the concept at a store he operates in Suwannee, Georgia. “We have families who aren’t successful the first time and come back to try again. We even have people asking to take the boxes home with them! Our whole community is talking about it.”
Chick-fil-A’s cell phone coops aren’t a nationwide initiative just yet, according to the company’s website, but more than 150 franchises are already ordering and using the coops as a way to keep diners on track.