Meridian woman opens school-lunch franchise

newsroom@idahostatesman.comJanuary 16, 2014 

Valerie Ellis, 54, of Meridian, opened a Wholesome Tummies franchise Jan. 13.

Wholesome Tummies is an Orlando, Fla., company that contracts with schools to deliver lunches each day. Ellis said she is working with Calvary Christian School in Boise and is seeking contracts with other local schools.

"There are a lot of gluten-free children in the area," Ellis said in a news release. "And I want to expand the menu to accommodate them. A school lunch program isn't easy, especially with picky eaters like my children. It's important to get them involved in the process and expose them to new food options. I asked my kids to test my new cookie recipe and without even knowing it they picked the gluten-free cookies over the original recipe."

The company contracts with schools to deliver meals prepared each day in a local commercial kitchen or on-site if the school has its own kitchen. Its program consists of three parts: access to fresh foods through lunch, catering and vending programs; education about real food; and activities like fundraisers and a scholarship program.

Parents choose to opt in to the service and place orders for their kids at least 36 hours in advance through the company's website. There are no long-term contracts, and parents can order as many meals each month as they wish. Meals can be cancelled as late as 8 a.m. the morning of pickup.

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