Revolution Foods

Investment Partner Profile

W.K. Kellogg Foundation - Revolution FoodsDuring her brief stint as a teacher, Kristin Richmond noticed the stark difference in performance between those in her classroom who consistently had the benefit of good nutrition in school and those who did not. When she later got involved in the school reform movement in California and talked with teachers about the factors that most influenced their success with students, nutrition and health consistently came up, as did the poor quality of the food served in their school cafeterias.
  
So Richmond and her friend and fellow business school classmate Kirsten Tobey decided to start a “revolution.” Convinced that nutritious and good tasting school food could be a forceful contributor in the school reform movement, and just as importantly, improve health outcomes for vulnerable children, Richmond and Tobey plotted their strategy and in 2006 launched Revolution Foods in Oakland, Calif.
 
“From day one we were passionate that children should have the benefit of nutritious, delicious and culturally relevant meals in their schools every day. We thought it was not OK, not worthy of them, to serve developing children highly processed, unhealthy foods,” said Richmond. They established a local supplier pipeline for fresh fruits, vegetables, proteins and other quality ingredients and a regional kitchen where they could prepare fresh, healthy meals. They hired drivers who could immediately deliver them to local schools.
    
Fast forward six years later and Revolution Foods has evolved into a leader in the national movement to transform school food—a movement that represents a key strategy to improve the health and well-being of America’s most vulnerable children and help close the achievement gap in public schools.
  
Listed by Inc. Magazine as one of the fastest growing companies in America, the company has contracts in 25 cities in 11 states and seven regional kitchens that produce upwards of 200,000 healthy meals each day served to at least 100,000 children in 1,000 schools. Roughly 75 percent of the children they serve are low-income and eat breakfast, lunch, snacks and sometimes supper in school. Just as impressively, Revolution Foods has been recognized as a top urban employer, having created at least 900 fair wage jobs for parents and community members connected to the schools they serve and that offer fair wages and equity in the company.
 
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s mission driven investment (MDI) team learned about Revolution Foods and quickly determined that the company’s social mission very closely matched the framework that guides the foundation’s work—healthy kids, educated kids, family and economic security, community and civic engagement and racial equity. The potential financial return on the investment also looked very promising.

As the Kellogg Foundation’s working relationship with Revolution Foods’ founders grew, so did its investments in the company. Since 2010, the foundation has invested a total of $5.75 million in growth capital and equity, first as part of a working capital line and then by creating mezzanine debt to help the company grow. The foundation most recently made small equity investments as well.
  
“We have been a strategic investor in Revolution Foods, developing flexible ways to work with the company as it has grown while staying true to the WKKF commitment to be an impactful and responsible investor,” notes Tony Berkley, a leader of the foundation’s MDI  team. “Our focus is the ‘D’ in mission driven investing. We must drive impact with our investments.” 

Richmond says they are now collaborating with researchers top public health programs on ways to measure their full impact on school performance and community health outcomes—information that they hope to use to promote nationwide replication of their model. In the meantime, Richmond says they place great value in the testimonies they receive from teachers, principals and superintendents in states across the country. “They are there on the ground, in the schools, witnessing first-hand the impact good food is having on their students.” For now, that’s their daily inspiration.

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March 28, 2014

Putting Children First

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