Monday, January 25, 2010

Organic Lunch Services Join Forces

Gourmet Gorilla Acquires Green Bag Lunch

CSBA Member Gourmet Gorilla, Inc, a sustainable foodservice company for schools, has acquired Green Bag Lunch, LLC, Chicagoland’s pioneer in healthy school lunches. The combined company is the Midwest’s leader in organic and sustainable school lunches, making service available to more than 20,000 kids at 60 schools and camps in the city and suburbs.

The two companies first met as finalists for a state grant earmarked for sustainable companies. They quickly realized that their mutual mission of healthy kids and a healthy planet would be best served not by competing, but by joining forces. One company’s cold sack lunches complemented the other’s hot lunch service, and their delivery areas overlapped. Both companies offer exclusively natural, and many organic, foods – along with reusable and biodegradable serving materials and packaging.

“We are not just another school lunch program,” says Gourmet Gorilla Co-Founder Jason Weedon. “We know that it’s essential for kids not only to eat healthy, but to understand where their food comes from. So we partner with our schools to enhance their sustainability through farm visits, assisting with school vegetable gardens, nutritional curriculum, composting programs and cooking classes.”

Danielle Hrzic, Gourmet Gorilla Co-Founder and President, adds “Schools can enhance their lunch program by working with us, but they also have the option of using it as a fundraising opportunity. We have the ability to donate a share of what gets spent on meals back to the schools.”

Schools participating in the Gourmet Gorilla lunch program now have a wider variety of menu items and service models from which to choose. From weekly sack lunches that parents order online, to daily hot meal service for an entire school, every school can find a way to benefit. “Our customers are excited about this change, as we now have so many more options for them,” says Anne Weber, Green Bag Lunch CEO. “Every school is a little bit different, we understand that, and we can now accommodate any need.”

As many chronic illnesses have been linked to early eating habits, healthy school lunches are an important and growing trend. From the White House to popular books to local parent teacher associations (PTAs), the issue of getting kids to eat better and more sustainably is triggering change. “We’re excited to be Chicagoland’s leader in this area and to be a part of this movement. We know that change is often tough, but it’s happening,” says Weedon. “We’re well positioned to be the ones that can make a difference.”

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