Kristin Groos Richmond and Kirsten Saenz Tobey: Powering the food revolution
This duo formed a company that is working to change the face of school meals.
Thu, Apr 26, 2012 at 01:01 AM
SCHOOL FOODIES: Kristin Groos Richmond (left) and Kirsten Saenz Tobey of Revolution Foods. The company provides healthy school meals to more than 600 education programs nationwide. (Photo courtesy of Revolution Foods)
It’s an innovative company founded in 2005 by Kristin Groos Richmond and Kirsten Saenz Tobey that is working to change the face of school meals. They provide healthy, affordable and fresh meals to more than 120,000 students every day and have served more than 33 million meals to date.
All told, the company provides meals for more than 600 education programs nationwide. About two-thirds of the children are in low-income households.
The meals are home-style and based on real food ingredients like whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables. In addition, they never use high fructose corn syrup, artificial trans fats or preservatives. Also, the company’s commitment to health extends beyond the meal choices to include nutrition education programs.
Their high food standards, food and school partners (and 750-plus community hired employees), are all helping Revolution Foods lead the charge against the national childhood obesity crisis.
Both Richmond and Tobey had experience in education (between the two of them, they have taught in such disparate places as east Africa and Ecuador) before meeting in business school.
“We met at the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley, and shared a vision of creating a social venture that would make this idea a daily reality for schools nationwide,” says Richmond. “It didn’t hurt that we both loved great food as well.”
The duo decided to found a company with the aim of boosting the health profile of school lunches. To understand the community they would serve, they interviewed teachers, students, families and school leaders from more than 40 Bay-area schools.
“We built a partnership with Whole Foods, who believed in our mission of getting as much fresh healthy food as we could to as many students as possible,” Tobey explains. "The moment in my life that spurred me to this was when I worked as a teacher and a garden educator and I saw firsthand how children began making healthier choices once they were empowered with deeper knowledge about the food they were putting into their bodies.”
When talking about healthy foods, it’s not all about tofu and veggies. A few sample Revolution menus include: spaghetti and meatballs served with a whole wheat dinner roll, steamed carrots and fruit; barbeque chicken wings with cheesy rice, steamed corn, whole grain cheddar Goldfish crackers and fruit; and sesame chicken salad with sesame sticks, a whole wheat roll, and fruit. Sound good? The duo also created a line of organic lunchbox snacks that include items such as yogurt-filled sandwich bars made with 100 percent whole grains.
The company has also begun offering healthy snack vending machines as a complement to their school meal programs. “The machines are stocked with 100 percent natural snacks with no fried anything,” says Richmond.
Tobey reports that at the moment Revolution Foods has a presence in Southern California, Colorado, Maryland, Washington D.C., Texas, and the New York-New Jersey area, with two new culinary centers opening in Chicago and New Orleans later this year.
“The grander plan is to continue to expand our impact so that every child in the U.S. can have access to healthy, real food," she said.
Get inspired: Learn about others who are making a difference with MNN's Innovation Generation project.