Cracking the School Lunch Problem
The biggest one being Revolution Foods of Oakland, Calif. Revolution Foods was also started in 2006 by two moms who saw the same need; Kristin Groos Richmond and Kristen Saenz Tobey.
The company has been named the sixth-fastest growing food and beverage company on Inc. 500's 2012 List of Fastest Growing Privately Held Companies, according to its Facebook (FB) page.
But given the size of the market, Blacher says there is definitely room for multiple players and believes her product and service is superior to others for several reasons.
On the product side, foods are made from scratch every day and do not contain any artificial flavors or ingredients.
Yet Blacher acknowledges that it is a learning process.
"We've learned for example tofu and wild green beans, we've learned that kids don't necessarily go for that in the beginning. You have to meet kids where they are. Our number one focus is to take kids' favorite foods and make them healthier," Blacher says. "We create a relationship and from there we can move into other options."
There's also the problem of rising food costs that almost knocked down the company before it even got its start. Given that the company launched right as the recession started, trying to get reasonable prices on foods and commodities was next to impossible, Blacher says, but as the company grows, she's finding it easier to gain purchasing power. Another problem for Blacher was sourcing food. With so much of the food made from scratch, the company had difficulty finding food sources that were not full of chemicals, she says, while keeping lunch prices at, on average, $5.
Wholesome Tummies as a franchised concept has potential.
Wholesome Tummies provides a 'total healthy school solution,' addressing a variety of aspects of the school food environment from lunch to vending to food fundraisers, on top of which the company also provides a proprietary ordering and payment technology system.
Ironically, a typical franchisee isn't the chef, but a more business-minded individual.
A start-up investment typically ranges from about $77,000 to $115,000, not terrible when compared to the hundreds of thousands needed for other fast-food franchises. The investment includes the $30,000 franchise fee and a $5,000 software license fee. It also includes capital needed to hire a trained chef, kitchen staff and marketing team as well as lease -- at least initially -- a commissary kitchen.
Blacher also wants to create a community of like-minded social entrepreneurs looking to further the company's mission of introducing ways to fight against childhood obesity at a more localized level by encouraging healthy eating at schools. "This concept we're talking about -- it is a deeply personal concept. When you tap into a very grass-roots level it fuels the concept. You can't be in an ivory tower and have that kind of impact," she says.
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