View Full Version : All SF The Great Lunch Meltdown of 2011

08-20-2011, 01:04 PM
In case you didn't see this:

Some of you may be aware that the first days of school were a total disaster in terms of the school meal program. Delivery of meals to many elementary schools, and virtually all of the 46 childcare sites, did not happen until as late as 1-2pm on the first day of school, and the meals which were then delivered still needed to be heated. Long story short, many kids skipped lunch that day, or ate an improvised meal of cereal or whatever the school could throw together on no notice.

Without getting into the details of how this happened, suffice it to say that personnel changes and poor management at the production facility of SFUSD's meal provider (Preferred Meal Systems) were the culprits. SFUSD student nutrition services first became aware of the problem early on the Friday before school started; by 8am phone calls were already being made to Preferred headquarters, but inexplicably, no action was taken by Prefereed management until days later.

In order for meals to be ready to serve to kids at lunchtime Monday, they must be delivered no later than about 2pm Friday (which is when the caf worker leaves.) And just FYI, this would be true even if SFUSD were cooking their own meals at a central kitchen. The idea that a meal to be served to tens of thousands of students on Monday could be cooked on Monday morning, is an illusion.

Although an apology eventually will be forthcoming from Preferred Meal Systems, they are certainly taking their time about it, probably on the advice of their legal team; once they go on record accepting full responsibility (as they should!) for the disaster, it will be hard to defend against any legal action the school district may decide to pursue.

I am not the only person working for better school food who would not shed a tear to move our meal service away from this company. While they have made many improvements to their offerings in response to demand from our community, allowing a situation like the one that left our kids without meals earlier this past week is, quite simply, inexcusable.

Some of you know that after 9 years of heading the SFUSD student nutrition and physical activity committee, I have stepped down as co-chair of the committee. While I continue to work on school food issues through my organization PEACHSF.org, I will no longer be involved with the SFUSD committee. It is time for new parent leadership in this area; those of you who have children in the schools, especially if your children qualify for free or reduced price meals, are the ones who need to get involved and start working to make the SFUSD school meal program the kind of program you want it to be. I hope that some good can come out of this week's disaster, that it will catalyze a new group of parents to jump in and start working to make the system better.

And finally, my apologies to everyone who was inconvenienced by this disaster - to the students, the families, the teachers and Principals and staff. It is completely unacceptable that kids should be left without their lunch, and we need to make sure this never happens again!

Amy Crawford
08-23-2011, 11:18 AM
Hi, I'm the education reporter at the San Francisco Examiner, and I'm looking for parents to discuss the late lunches last week. Please give me a call today (8/23) if your child attends an affected school. I am at 415-359-2741.