SFUSD Board to Reconsider "No" Vote on School Lunch Contract at May 7 Meeting
After a 4 to 3 vote of the SFUSD school board terminated the district’s contract with its school lunch provider, the board will have an opportunity to re-vote on the issue next week.
At the April 23, 2019 Board of Education meeting, board members declined to renew the district’s contract with Revolution Foods, the provider of school meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) in San Francisco public schools since 2013.
Of the board members who voted against renewal of the contract: Board President Cook, and Commissioners Collins, Lopez, and Moliga, some (Cook and Collins) cited concerns about the quality of school lunches and the the amount of food waste resulting from students not eating meals they don’t find appetizing. They also felt that district staff had not been moving fast enough to make improvements or look into other contract options after hearing similar concerns over the years.
Commissioners who favored renewal, overall agreed that improving school food quality and reducing food waste are pressing priorities, but noted the reality that “there is no plan B” and failure to renew the contract at this time would leave students without access to summer meals starting July 1 when the current contract expires. Student delegates Aruino and Mai voted in favor of extending the contract, but their votes serve an advisory function on the board. Student delegate Mai, who said he eats school lunches, didn’t give the current food a rousing endorsement, but noted improvement in recent years.
Jennifer LeBarre, who took over as Executive Director of Student Nutrition Services last June, explained to board members that within the past year many efforts have been underway to improve the quality of school food, through efforts such as student school food advisory councils, extensive menu redevelopment, tightened ordering guidelines and new contract performance language that includes fines for failure to meet requirements. There has also been a food-waste study being undertaken through a partnership with UC Berkeley and groundwork being laid to shift away from reliance on outside food vendors by creating facilities and staff infrastructure to prepare food “in house” using local sourced, fresh food. There was an informative presentation on much of this work at a board meeting earlier this year. A link the that presentation is here.
Since last week’s meeting, this issue has been covered by the local press and in articles and opinion pieces.
Revolution Foods has also completed student surveys in over 70 SFUSD schools over the past week and will be bringing that feedback to the meeting.
Have an opinion?
This issue has been placed on the agenda of next week’s Committee of the Whole meeting on Tuesday at 6PM. Agenda is here. Commissioners may at that time reconsider their vote and approve the contract with Revolution Foods for next school year. There will be an opportunity for public comment at the meeting and those who wish to voice their opinion on this issue or have concerns they wish to raise are encouraged to attend. Feedback can also be sent directly to board commissioners. Contact info is here.