You may have heard of San Francisco Unified School District’s partnership with prepared meal vendor, Revolution Foods, but did you know that at 20 middle and high schools, Student Nutrition Services (SNS) also prepares in-house meals from scratch every single day?
Student Nutrition Services’ freshly prepared meal program, known as Refresh, has been around for many years, but it has recently been revamped, and this is just the beginning. The Refresh menu now offers a variety of meat and vegetarian entrees made in-house daily, accompanied by a wide selection of fresh fruit and vegetable side dishes available for lunch and supper.
This semester, dishes include spicy beef flatbread tacos with sriracha slaw, BBQ chicken drumstick with mashed potatoes, roasted tomato caprese salad, and oven toasted sandwiches, with fresh vegetable sides like a crunchy carrot cranberry slaw, tomato soup, and much more.
What are students saying? Students are at the heart of every decision at SNS. Last year, Student Nutrition Services tested over 30 new recipes with students at 10 schools. Many of these choices are featured on this semester’s menu. Thanks to the inspiring group of student leaders of the School Food Advisory, we also have recipes designed and vetted by students, like pasta alfredo and chicken tikka masala, now served weekly. Students across the District are letting us know that they taste the difference and prefer meals prepared freshly in their schools by staff they know and trust.
What about the ingredients? SNS works closely with a network of vendor partners to bring the best quality ingredients into our kitchens. Today, over 50% of the produce, along with many other foods we serve, are locally sourced, such as brown rice from Sun West Farms in the Sacramento Valley, pupusas and tamales from Del Real Foods, in Mira Loma, CA, and organic strawberries from Coke Farms, grown in the Central Coast.
Yet providing good food is much more than just going local. In alignment with the Good Food Purchasing Policy, unanimously passed by the SFUSD Board of Education in 2016, SNS is committed to the equity and health of our food system, by purchasing foods that are also sustainably grown, from animals that are humanely raised, and by workers that are treated fairly and paid good wages, in addition to supporting local economies, and, as always, providing meals that are healthy and nutritious.
Making it Happen
Historically limited by antiquated kitchen facilities and outdated equipment, SNS is now working to offer more exciting options, improve the quality of the food, and increase the number of meals prepared from scratch across the District. To reach these goals, SNS is investing in new kitchen equipment and training for kitchen staff, as well as renovating school kitchens to support a more robust culinary program.
But this work would not be possible without additional funding - largely made possible by a public/private partnership made possible by the Someland Foundation and City voters! Utilizing bond funds from the 2016 SF General Obligation Bond, as well as funding from the recently enacted Sugar Sweetened Beverage Tax, the district is now able to expand their Refresh Menu, making and serving more meals in house, to provide students with a variety of fresh, healthy meals.
If your students have feedback or menu suggestions, please reach out directly to your dining staff or contact Student Nutrition Services Culinary Manager Alex Emmott at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keep an eye out for new and changing recipes next semester!