A student nutrition worker at Tenderloin Community School, distributes five-cheese lasagna lunches from Revolution Foods to students. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

SF schools extend contract with food vendor despite concerns

Revolution Foods chosen after search fails to find better option

The same food vendor will continue supplying food to San Francisco’s K-12 students for another three to five years despite previous concerns about student dissatisfaction.

On Jan. 28, the Board of Education voted to renew the San Francisco Unified School District’s contract with the Oakland-based Revolution Foods for $11.5 million annually.

The vendor provides over 30,000 meals a day on average to students at more than 130 K-12 schools across San Francisco.

The decision to extend the contract, which would have ended in May, followed months of discussion about the taste of food served to students.

“I’m paying close attention. I think the district is too,” Board member Stevon Cook said. “I think the district knows there are serious concerns for the board.”

Last April, the board initially declined to award Revolution Foods a full contract, citing dissatisfied students and wasted food.

“I’d hear things that the food tastes like cardboard, and I would go to the school site and see food in the trash,” Cook said, explaining why he initially voted against renewing the contract.

Then, in May, the board reversed its decision and approved a one-year renewal after staff argued that the abrupt cancellation could leave the district without a way to feed students over the summer and into the fall. The extension was intended to give the district more time to search for a better option.

But last November, Revolution Foods beat out two vendors applying for the position after scoring the highest in a blind taste-test with 77 participants at four schools.

“Based on the full evaluation, Revolution Foods was deemed to be the best value responsible bidder to serve SFUSD,” school district spokesperson Laura Dudnick said.

Cook and other board members approved the renewal after taking recommendations from staff of the district’s Student Nutrition Services.

Revolution Foods CEO Kris Richmond said her company collected 1,749 sets of surveys across 44 school sites and found that 70% of K-5 students “loved” the meals, scoring them an average of 2.62 out of 3.

Richmond added that her company is improving its menus and rolled out a new display to help students choose their food. A family style platform is available at George Washington High School and will be implemented at Lafayette Elementary School on Feb. 12.

“The students and the administration have both noticed many improvements this year with our school meal program,” said Allen Lee, principal at John Yehall Chin Elementary School.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect the correct gender for Revolution Foods CEO Kris Richmond.

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