SFUSD aiming to switch food provider with fresh, healthier options

Courtesy PhotoGrade-A grubbing: The SFUSD’s contract with Oakland-based Revolution Foods Inc. is awaiting approval by the Board of Education. Students’ meals are currently prepared in Illinois and shipped.

Courtesy PhotoGrade-A grubbing: The SFUSD’s contract with Oakland-based Revolution Foods Inc. is awaiting approval by the Board of Education. Students’ meals are currently prepared in Illinois and shipped.

A revolution is coming to San Francisco’s public schools: no more frozen, precooked cafeteria food that’s shipped from halfway across the country.

On Friday, the San Francisco Unified School District announced plans to award a contract to Oakland-based Revolution Foods Inc. to provide nutritious — and freshly prepared — meals for city schoolchildren.

The $9 million contract, which falls within the district’s budget, would supply the food needed to make 33,000 meals and snacks that 114 schools need daily, officials said. The contract now must be approved by the Board of Education.

Revolution Foods is a rapidly growing company that says its mission is to combat child obesity. It provides meals to school districts in more than 20 U.S. cities. Founded by two UC Berkeley alums, the company says it is against fried, fatty, sodium-heavy foods and cooks meals fresh daily.

Board of Education member Rachel Norton said that through Revolution, schools can “expect a significant improvement in the quality of food served to students.”

To ensure Revolution’s food was up to snuff, a panel of representatives from the Student Advisory Council, the Parent Advisory Council and the Board of Education’s Food and Fitness Committee tasted the meals from all bidders. They assessed appearance, taste, texture and overall appeal.

“The Community Tasting Panel did not compare meal offerings — they assessed the meal that was before them by its own merits,” the school district said.

In October, the SFUSD began seeking a new meal vendor that could meet federal nutrition guidelines while also serving fresh food. The district’s current provider, Preferred Meal Systems, is based in Illinois and ships frozen, precooked foods from three facilities to sites around the country, according to a January analysis of SFUSD food services commissioned by the San Francisco Food Bank.

When the food arrives at the company’s Brisbane facility, it is redistributed, reheated and served throughout the school district.

That method goes against SFUSD’s reputation for fostering student nutrition — the district is known as a leader in phasing out sodas and unhealthy snacks, installing salad bars and improving food quality in vending machines.

Revolution prepares meals daily, SFUSD officials said, and its distribution center is in South San Francisco.

And besides filling bellies, the food should help students learn, SFUSD Superintendent Richard Carranza said.

“To strengthen academic performance, we must promote good eating habits and provide access to high-quality, nutritious food that appeals to our diverse community of students,” Carranza said.

maldax@sfexaminer.com

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