• 02.09.15

Revolution Foods

For selling good, cheap food to children who need it most.

Revolution Foods
Food fighters: Saenz Tobey (left) and cofounder Kristin Groos Richmond met at the University of California, Berkeley’s MBA program.

Every day, Revolution Foods provides 300,000 of what it calls “real food” meals to schoolchildren in 25 cities, for only $3 apiece. That’s 300,000 fewer mystery meats gut-bombing America’s future. And get this: Kids like it. Revolution is tweaking foods that students are familiar with—engineering a healthier hot dog, say—and then involving its tough critics in the recipe design process. The company’s chefs visit classrooms to do taste tests, providing children whose idea of food criticism is often, “Eww!” with colored cards to express themselves. Revolution also caters to regional tastes: “If you’re in Louisiana you’re going to have a jambalaya on the menu,” says Kirsten Saenz Tobey, cofounder and chief impact officer. “But in California that same brown rice is served with enchiladas and a red sauce.”


The proof is in the (­natural, additive-free) pudding, with revenue quadrupling from $18 million to $80 million over the past five years. Revolution sells to schools that provide free or reduced-price meal programs via federal funding, which means it needs to keep costs down. It does that in part by cooking in a centralized kitchen
and then delivering the meals to schools; school employees are still the ones that serve the kids. And to achieve greater bargaining power with suppliers, Revolution is now also expanding into healthy Lunchables-style boxed meals. The products—ham and cheddar, hummus and pita chips, and more—are sold in 2,000-plus grocery stores, including Safeway and Whole Foods.

One Cool Thing

No more sloppy meat plopped on a plate. This is what awaits Revolution-fed schoolchildren:

[Photo: John Francis Peters]

About the author

Staff writer Ainsley (O'Connell) Harris covers the business of technology with a focus on financial services and education. Follow her on Twitter at @ainsleyoc.