Revolution Foods – Healthy school lunch is not impossible!

A few months ago we were contacted by the team at Revolution Foods. If you haven’t heard of this company, it’s an amazing start-up founded in 2006 by two ambitious Berkeley MBAs who had a vision for school lunches that don’t suck yet still cost the same as the current offering to kids in free/reduced price lunch programs. The idea was to prepare fresh meals, every day, in a central hub and then ship them by trucks to all the schools in a certain radius.

They started in Oakland, California and expanded from there. Today, Revolution Foods serves healthy meals to students in 6 major markets – 120,000 meals every day! Since its founding, the company has served 30 million freshly prepared meals.

But it doesn’t stop there. The team’s goal is to ignite a healthy food revolution by not only providing access to the highest quality meals, but also by engaging directly with students to empower them to make healthier eating decisions for themselves. Each school is assigned a Revolution employee (School Account Manager, or SAM for short) with a nutrition background. Aside from overseeing the lunch program, SAM teaches nutrition classes.

And a few weeks ago, instead of a routine lesson with a whiteboard, the bay area SAM did something really useful – she taught the kids how to read nutrition labels and ingredient lists. And in order to make it fun, she brought in some iPads with the Fooducate app on them. The children had to read product labels on everyday items and try to analyze and decide how healthy they are. After they came to a conclusion, they would scan the products with Fooducate and see if they were correct.

Needless to say, the kids were ecstatic about using a cool gadget like the iPad. Hopefully they learned a thing or two about nutrition.

So here are two ideas for parents and school administrators:

1. If your school is participating in lunch programs, get in touch with Revolution Foods asap!

2. Get kids excited about nutrition by using some technology in the class. Bring in some supermarket products, teach the children how to read their labels, and then have some fun by scanning the barcodes with Fooducate (Android, iPhone, iPod, and iPad).

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  • Lauren

    This is fantastic, just forwarded link to this post to my boys’ school. Making nutrition cool, that’s what this is about (or a big part of it).

  • Dana Woldow

    I am sorry to see you parroting the Revolution Foods party line that it doesn’t cost schools any more to use Revolution Foods than the cost of a “regular” school lunch.
    What utter crap! The truth is, Revolution charges about $3 per lunch on their cheapest plan, which includes the cost of the food, with labor and transportation to get the food to the school. Once the food enters the cafeteria, however, Revolution’s job is over; they can pocket their $3 per meal and leave.But for the school, the job has just begun. Revolution Foods meals are delivered the day before they are served, so they have to be refrigerated overnight and reheated on site each day. In addition to reheating the lunch, the cafeteria worker in a typical public school is also required by the USDA to check each student’s meal tray at the end of the lunch line to make sure that the meal they have chosen qualifies for government reimbursement; they must also correctly record each student as eligible for free, or reduced, or “paid” lunch, so that the correct reimbursement for each meal can be claimed. After lunch, the caf worker has to clean up, and make sure tomorrow’s Revolution meals are safely stowed in the fridge.And about that fridge – someone has to pay for the electricity to run it, as well as the power for the rethermalization ovens to reheat the food before it is served. Someone has to pay for pest control for the cafeteria, and the overhead lights, and garbage collection, and the costs of processing meal applications, filing out mountains of paperwork to get the govt. reimbursement, and making sure the school sites are complying with federal regulations so that they can pass the mandated program review every 4 years.Who pays those costs? Why, the schools of course, because the entire $2.72 government reimbursement for a free lunch already went into the pocket of Revolution Foods just to get the meal in the back door of the cafeteria.

    Do you really believe it doesn’t cost schools more to choose these meals? Really? Because unless the caf worker is working for free, and unless the utilities are free, and the garbage collection is free, and the labor to process meal applications and plow through all the required forms to get the money from the government is all free, then it sure sounds like it costs schools more. All of these costs have to be paid, and they are the reason why most schools can only afford to spend about a dollar of the $2.72 government reimbursement on the food. Lunch programs are expected to cover the costs incurred by their program, and that includes the costs of cafeteria workers, utilities, office expenses to process applications and apply for reimbursements, and other program overhead. The truth is that Revolution Foods is not working any miracles; they are using better quality ingredients than some other meal companies, and they are charging more for them; that’s why their meal costs $3 and the typical school meal provider only charges about $1. So why not say so?

  • CTate

    They used to have this service at my kids school.  Had some serious problems with quality control and growth issues.  And the kids didn’t like it – and mine even like veggies!  

    I think school lunches need an overhaul but I think it is going to be a long process.  I hope they have improved.

  • Jim Cooper

    Since much of the Fooducate app is full of misinformation, this is hardly an educational tool I would endorse for the schools.

  • Anonymous

    Bottles of Snapples in the photo of kids w/Ipad-since when is Snapple a healthy drink?

    • Fooducate

      The children were given a host of COMMON & LOVED items to analyze. Snapple is a great example to teach kids about sugary drinks. It is obviously NOT a healthy drink.