School Lunch

School Lunch Revolution: How the Free Market Is Tackling Bad Cafeteria Food


Revolution Foods/Facebook

As Washington spins itself in circles trying to make school lunch programs healthier, here's a hint at how the free market could come to bear. The investment fund Revolution Growth, run by AOL co-founder Steve Case, just announced that it's putting $30 million into Revolution Foods, a company founded eight years ago by two mothers devoted to improving cafeteria food at their childrens' school.

Co-founder and CEO Kristin Groos tells TechCrunch that she and partner Kirsten Saenz Tobey saw that "there was a large scale business opportunity to address the intersection of healthy, affordable, kid-designed, and loved meals."

Unlike much school cafeteria food, Revolution meals are prepared daily from fresh ingredients and contain no artificial colors or flavors, no preservatives, no trans fats, and no high-fructose corn syrup. And all meals comply with National School Lunch Program (NSLP) guidelines, which means they're reimbursable for schools using federal funds.

When Revolution Foods launched, the women were preparing around 500 meals per day for three schools near Oakland, California. Now the company serves about 1 million meals per week, to students in 1,000 schools and 26 cities. It also sells pre-packaged kids' lunches in some 2,000 U.S. grocery stores. 

A small dent in the national school lunch connundrum? Sure. But it shows how the free market plus parental ingenuity could get healthier lunches into school cafeterias much more quickly than the top-down, federal-menu-planning approach. 

Explaining his investment to Time, Case notes that neither Republicans nor Democrats are for unhealthy school meals, but they're bogged down by trying to design a one-size-fits-all program. "Our view," says Case, "is the market can solve this problem. Revolution Foods is demonstrating that." 

NEXT: Scott Shackford on How Parent Trigger Law Leverage Helps Reform Public Schools

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  1. The market will only bear brown bagging it.

    1. A brown bag with Night Train or Thunderbird?

      1. Cisco. Or Manischewitz.

      2. Stop with the BB-words, guys.

        That expression is RACIST!

        1. Only in reference to Maya Angelou.

    2. The Federal government won’t bear this encroachment on its power.

  2. “And all meals comply with National School Lunch Program (NSLP) guidelines, which means they’re reimbursable for schools using federal funds.”

    The free market at work!

    1. Exactly. Liberate the school lunch market from the fetters of fascist federal funding.

      On this we finally find ourselves in agreement.

  3. kid-designed, and loved meals

    What? Urchins know better what they’ll eat than Congresscritters and 1stladies? Unpossible. Kids can’t be Top Men!

    1. But only TOP KIDS get to design the meals. Gotta establish the pecking order early.

  4. The alt-text says “Lunchables 3.0” for a reason: Those look like SWPL Lunchables.

    1. Well, after Lunchables decided to go after the “urban” market the all too typical “white flight” ensued.

  5. And all meals comply with National School Lunch Program (NSLP) guidelines,

    Once the new guidelines are in place the meals won’t comply anymore.

    1. “13. Meals to be exclusively produced by Federal Cronies Contractors.”


  6. Also, nothing in the article about the profit/loss of the company (especially without the taxpayer money) nor anything about how many kids actually eat the meals.

    This could be the Solyndra of school lunch for all we know.

    1. There’s a Solyndra/Soylent Green joke somewhere in there.

      1. not a funny one, that’s for sure. Tragicomic, maybe.

        1. (I say this as an expert on jokes that aren’t funny.)

          1. Hey, you don’t wanna be muscling in on my territory, bub.

            1. Oh, no one can touch you there (trigger warning!!!), Professor Farnsworth.

              1. Oh my, yes.

  7. These capitalist monsters are profiting from the hunger of our children!!!

  8. The basic fact that meals contain “no artificial colors or flavors, no preservatives, no trans fats, and no high-fructose corn syrup” shows a level of scientific illiteracy which negates any “free market” benefits.

    Another victory for the Whole Foods, Organic, Natural worship crowd..

  9. I wonder what would happen if we petitioned the whitehouse to publish daily the first family’s menu?
    Is the wookie eating the same meals she recommends for school kids?

    1. Wonder what lunches Sidwell Friends serves.

    2. Stay classy you redneck moron.

  10. I thought (foolishly?) that this was a libertarian / free market site. Get rid of all federal guidelines and funding for school lunches. I’m pretty certain the local school folks can figure out how to feed the little pudgy monsters.

  11. The answer is Stealth Health. Make something that tastes like it used to but sneak in some nutrition.

    Goldfish crackers are healthier than candy, even if the goldfish crackers aren’t 100% organic and the candy is carob chips.

  12. I know that there are a lot of people who support this idea and who criticize as they don`t want government influence the daily menu of their children. But it is evident that healthy food can save your child from lots of problems. At the same time if you are so junk food addicted, give it in the box to school and allow your child to eat it during the breaks. There are too many talks over this question (I can`t even call it problem) It is better to think about more important thing like decreasing of reading and writing culture of our children (click here if you need overnight thesis statement help fast ) We should be honest that when we look at young generation we see people with health problems (food definitely influence it) and very narrow outlook.

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