Rose Reisman knows a thing or two about packing a healthy school lunch.
The celebrated nutritionist, TV personality and cookbook author is known for her fresh and healthy recipes—and she’s also the mom of four grown kids, so it’s safe to say she’s packed her fair share of school lunches.
Now she’s bringing that lunch-packing expertise to GTA-area families—having launched a hot lunch delivery program that cooks up healthy, nutritious meals that kids will actually eat.
‘When my kids were little,’ Rose told us, ‘I tried everything. I packed every salad, every healthy grain I knew in their lunches…and they wouldn’t touch it.’ Instead of trying to fight a losing battle, Rose has created a menu chock-full of kid faves like pastas, sliders, chicken fingers and mac and cheese—made healthy thanks to the use of whole grains, fresh veggies, and baking instead of frying.
So instead of a burger with deep-fried French fries, the program menu has sliders on whole-wheat buns with baked sweet potato fries. The chicken fingers are also baked, and the lasagna is vegetarian and loaded up with steamed veggies. It’s all about tastes and textures kids love—with a focus on real, fresh ingredients.
We also love that Rose openly acknowledges that, when it comes to kids and food, compromise is necessary. ‘We have whole wheat options, but we carry white bread too. Because we know, sometimes, that’s all they’ll eat!’
So whether your kid is an adventurous eater who would chow down on salmon teriyaki one day and Cobb salad the next, or a picky eater who’s only interested in grilled cheese sammies and pizza—you’re covered. It’s a dose of realism we’re happy to see on the menu. They can also accommodate all manner of allergies—gluten, nuts, lactose, sesame, eggs and more, and offer kosher options as well.
Here’s how it works: if you want to get the lunch program operating in your child’s school, contact your PA or principal and let Rose’s team know you’re interested. Then the lunch program team comes in for an info session—either with the PA or parents. Your school will then be set up with an account and a password on the lunch program website so that it’s as easy as entering the password when you place an order.
The program requires that a minimum of 30 kids per school register—simply because they hire a lunch coordinator to facilitate getting the right lunch to the right kid every day. The coordinator (often a parent at the school) picks up the hot lunches at the kitchen and drives them to the school, and 15 minutes before bell, assembles everything in a reusable lunch bag for each student. (Those lunch bags are collected daily, washed, and reused, and the program composts and recycles the trash, too). Since it’s the same lunch coordinator at each school each day, it all quickly becomes a familiar process for everyone involved.
Rose was driven to create the lunch program because she believes that a healthy lifestyle is built upon a foundation of good habits that start when one is young. ‘You don’t just wake up in your 50’s with health problems’, she says. ‘You start young.’
She also knew that the kinds of lunches she didn’t want to advocate—the processed, all-white, and bland sort—were not for a lack of caring on the part of mums. ‘I get it.’ She says. ‘I remember having four kids in school, being in the middle of it, and knowing that mums like me were in the dark.’
Rose is now a proud grandmother to twin 18-month-old girls, so we’re betting that thoughts of school days and packed lunches are starting to creep back into her own life, too.
About 22 schools across the GTA are currently using the program, and Rose hopes to add more and spread her ethos of healthy, delicious eating. ‘Get children eating nutritious, tasty food at an early age and I can guarantee they will eat healthy for life.’ She says.