Kristin Richmond

Ashoka Fellow
Oakland, California, United States
Fellow Since 2011
Related TopicsHealth & Fitness, Nutrition


This profile was prepared when Kristin Richmond was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2011.
The New Idea
Kirsten and Kristin, both former teachers, understand that the food that schools serve significantly impacts school performance, and lays the foundation for behavioral patterns around eating that extend both to the home and into adulthood. Poor quality school food services, then, can significantly contribute to a multitude of problems, including escalating obesity rates and the occurrence of type II diabetes, particularly among low-income Americans.

Traditional school lunch suppliers—Sysco, Chartwell Compass, Preferred Meals, and others—are contract management companies operating with a commitment to profit, not a focus on the health of children. On the other end of the spectrum, farm-to-school programs may be the ideal in terms of engendering an awareness of local, healthy foods and a connection to food sources, but these efforts are challenging to organize and sustain, as such efforts may require a facilities and staffing overhaul that schools simply cannot muster.

Kirsten and Kristin are creating demand, particularly in low-income charter schools, through an approach that supplies low-cost, healthy food. Their effort moves beyond meeting a need or exploiting a market niche. Instead, their teams engage with schools as partners and supply food only as school leadership agrees to advance the discussion of health and transform the nutritional offerings available in schools. Innovations in the supply chain mean that their lunches are nearly flush with reimbursements allowable to low-income schools through the free and reduced lunch program. The effort currently reaches school communities and about 50,000 students daily in the San Francisco/Bay Area, Los Angeles, Washington, DC, and Denver. They are pursuing a high-growth trajectory and expect to double their reach and impact in the next two to three years.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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