The Austin Chronicle

Revolution Foods Partners With City to Provide 1,000 Meals a Day

By Jessi Cape, May 9, 2020, 8:00am, On the Range

Food insecurity is one thing that doesn’t change even with some recent pandemic-related restrictions relaxed. Revolution Foods, a nationwide supplier of healthy school and community meals, has partnered with the Austin City Council to distribute meals to the homeless community.

According to Revolution Foods, “over one-half of families in the U.S. rely on the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP).” That presents quite a food security challenge even in the best of circumstances, and this new initiative (part of a program that works in 175 cities across 13 states) aims to provide 1,000 fresh meals a day, every day, in Austin at five meal sites.

“We know overall access to food, and to homeless shelters that serve meals, is a major issue for food insecure individuals in Austin,” said CEO and co-founder Kristin Groos Richmond. “As such, we have made it our mission to design and deliver meals that can accommodate the homeless community’s unique health needs. The City of Austin has been an incredible partner in working hand-in-hand with us to come up with the best meal options and feeding sites. We admire city officials’ genuine care for their people which shines through in all their efforts.”

Individuals can visit a meal site – sites in Austin include Angel House Soup Kitchen, Sunrise Homeless Navigation Center, Central Presbyterian, Palmer Events Center – Mobile Loaves & Fishes, and Micah 6 Food Pantry at University Presbyterian Church – and pick up fresh, chef-prepared lunches to take home and reheat for their families. In Austin, they are serving – among other menu options and shelf-stable meals for those without refrigeration access – French toast, oven-roasted chicken sandwiches, seasoned green beans, and fresh fruit.

As for the partnership with CoA, Groos Richmond says Revolution reached out “to see if we could support their efforts to provide healthy meals amid the pandemic. After examining our current work and overall mission to ensure all families have access to nutritious, tasty meals ongoing and especially during these times – which aligned directly with the City’s mission – the City of Austin approved the contract.” That contract went into effect April 14. Amanda Rohlich, Food System Advisor at City of Austin, Office of Sustainability said, “The Revolution Foods’ contract is a vital tool for the City in order to respond to the food needs created by COVID-19. Revolution Foods gives us a reliable and flexible source of nutrition for those experiencing homelessness and we will adjust and expand to match the conditions in the community.”

Rohlich added, “At each of our food access sites, the food is necessary and greatly appreciated by the community. By receiving ready-to-eat meals, it’s freed up the resources and capacity to provide more services to those experiencing homelessness.”

Revolution is “following the City of Austin’s lead” for expansion plans and said they hope to work with additional local feeding sponsors like Be A Champion. Groos Richmond added, “We know that access to food for communities in need isn’t a challenge unique to Austin and hope that our partnership here will create a roadmap for other cities to follow as unemployment rates continue to rise across the nation.”

That partnership is already making an impact locally.

“At Angel House, the homeless community appreciates the healthy meals,” said Cindy Smith, co-director of Angel House Soup Kitchen. “Revolution Foods’ grab-and-go style meals make it easier to distribute as it eliminates some of the cost it takes to prep, allowing Angel House to allocate funds to provide other essential items such as vitamin C packs, bandanas, socks, extra bottled waters, etc. to those in need.”

Mark Hilbelink, director of the Sunrise Homeless Navigation Center, echoed that sentiment.

“At the Sunrise Homeless Navigation Center, lines are stretching around the block as so many places have been shut down as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said. “Providing balanced meals helps better enable individuals to participate in other supportive services. We had one individual tell us that eating at Sunrise was the first time he felt full in three weeks. Another person told us that he wouldn’t have made it through the pandemic without the food and services available at Sunrise.”

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