1074 W Taylor, 126, Chicago, IL 60607
Published May 6, 2022
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected so many aspects of our lives, including our diets and our children’s diets! At Gourmet Gorilla, one of our proudest accomplishments so far is getting one of our charter school clients back on track nutrition-wise.
In this client success story, we used innovation to increase school lunch participation. After kids had been doing virtual learning for months, coming back to the physical classroom was quite the adjustment. They were used to eating at home, which may not have always featured balanced meals – who can fault parents for this nutritional hiccup during a global pandemic? With empty grocery store shelves and supply chain issues, it was difficult enough to make sure any food got on the table!
Once the kids went back to their charter school, the eating habits that started during virtual learning continued. Children were bringing in meals filled with processed foods, including unhealthy, pre-made lunch packages starring cookies and candy for dessert.
The school reached out to us for help, and we got to work, immediately cleaning up the cafeteria that was littered with lunch packages! From there, we had to make a plan. How could we increase participation in the school lunch program?
As experts in kids’ food preferences, we knew we couldn’t offer them anything they were unaccustomed to, as they would always choose their tasty lunch packages over the alternatives. We had to meet them where they were, nutrition-wise. We had to offer them a meal that could compete with junk food!
The solution we came up with was to create our own healthy lunch packages. They looked like what the students had been eating – even featuring a cookie and juice box. But the food was much more satisfying and nutritional, the cookie was healthy and the juice box was all-natural. The appearance and flavors weren’t all that different from what the kids were used to – but the nutritional value was much better than that of the processed foods.
Students jumped at the chance to sample these healthier lunch packages and, upon tasting them, decided they were just as delightful as the ones they brought from home. This solution helped parents as well, who no longer needed to send their kids to school with a lunch box.
A healthier meal option for students and an easier meal option for parents now awaits them in the cafeteria, thanks to the charter school’s partnership with Gourmet Gorilla. We’d love to use this method to help even more schools increase their meal participation.
Lunch packages aren’t a perfect meal, but our healthier versions are a great way to help kids gradually improve their eating habits. By exposing them to healthy foods in a familiar way, we’re broadening their palates while fueling their bodies.
After eating our pre-packaged meals for a while, the goal is that students will be more keen to try organic, natural foods, as the flavors will be reminiscent of the healthy lunch packages!
We are proud to have so many innovative and flexible minds at Gourmet Gorilla. If your school is looking for a solution to meal problems in the cafeteria or beyond, contact us.