Saturday, January 22, 2011

School Lunch Lies: Green Meals = Overpriced Junk

Revolution Foods claims that they can provide organic, eco-friendly meals cooked from scratch for the same cost as government subsidized free lunches. However, while they charge approximately $3 per lunch for their cheapest meals (slightly more than the government reimbursement of $2.72), this only covers the cost of the ingredients. Their meals are delivered the day before they are served, so they must be refrigerated and reheated. Cafeteria workers must also clean up, and check students to make sure they qualify for free lunch and check their meals to make sure they qualify, too, all adding labor costs well over and above the $3. Then there is pest management, utilities and janitorial costs to keep the cafeteria up and running, all paid for by the individual school. Government meals, in contrast, cost around $1 each for the actual food, leaving ample to cover the other costs.

Revolution Foods, which started in Oakland, California, in 2006, now provides lunch to nearly 40,000 students throughout California, Colorado and Washington. While they advertise themselves as a “green” business producing “wholesome” and “healthy” foods, many of their products are highly processed Fruit Mashups and Jammy Sammy Sandwich Bars. Furthermore, getting their products to schools in three different states and producing all that unnecessary packaging creates a carbon footprint that can hardly be considered insignificant.

Ultimately, Revolution Foods is just another example of a private, for-profit business capitalizing on government subsidized meals, like Sodexo, and Aramark, and their green marketing just another form of advertising.

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