In 2012, the contract between the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) and its school meal provider was nearing an end. The plated meals that the district had been buying from that provider, a large Chicago-based company, were hardly inspiring. The company was “flying them in frozen, and we would heat and serve them,” says Orla O’Keeffe, the head of policy and operations at SFUSD. She and her colleagues began to look for something better. After putting out a bid invitation that set high…

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