The Company Creating Healthy School Lunches That Kids Actually Want to Eat
A dozen children jostle to watch Revolution Foods chef Amy Klein shake up salad dressing in a Mason jar. When Klein asks who wants to help measure out sesame oil, the kids’ hands shoot up. When it’s time to sample the dressing — a blend of fresh lemon juice, oil, sugar and spices — on fresh cucumber rounds, most of the kids approve, but one kindergarten-age boy in an orange T-shirt hands back his fork.
“This is not good!” asserts the little guy.
“What do you think would make it better?” Klein asks him.
Klein’s question is key to how Revolution Foods handles its prime challenge: How do you make healthy school lunches children will actually eat? The answer: Involve the children in the recipe creation.
The approach is clearly working. Today, this school lunch provider, recognized as a 2016 Best for Customers honoree, supplies 1.5 million meals a week to 1,000 schools in 30 major cities, and brings in about $125 million in annual revenue.
Over the years, company co-founders Kristin Richmond and Kirsten Tobey have grown their families alongside their company. Richmond was pregnant with her first child when they launched in 2006. With five kids between them today, they call themselves “Moms on a Mission.”
Revolution Foods’ aim is to use what has long been regarded as foodie purgatory — the school lunch program — to create lifelong habits of healthy eating. Its lunches are prepared in central kitchens and reheated in retherm ovens at schools, not unlike many school lunches have been readied in recent years. But these healthy school lunches are different: They contain high-quality ingredients, with an emphasis on fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains. The meals also stand out for what they exclude: high-fructose corn syrup and artificial colors, flavors and sweeteners.
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