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Meet Amy – from What’s for Lunch?

Submitted by on February 1, 2016 – 4:00 am

IMG_43341. What’s What’s For Lunch?
What’s for Lunch? create curriculum linked educational programmes helping children discover healthy lifestyle choices. Our most popular programme is our ‘Food of the Week’ programme in which children discover a new whole food every week. They learn about where the food comes from, why it is good for us and most importantly what it tastes like. The programmes consist of interactive stories, science experiments, recipes and worksheets and are delivered digitally to schools and families throughout New Zealand.

2. What inspired it’s launch?
‘What’s for Lunch?’ is an incredibly loaded question when coming from a 4 year old 20 minutes before lunchtime. If answered incorrectly it can lead to mass negative propaganda that can be the difference between full tummies or a full rubbish bin.

I was the chef at a childcare centre in the middle of Wellington where I was responsible for feeding 25 children. Getting young children to eat a wide variety of healthy foods and try new things is a big challenge that is magnified when cooking for a large number. I found that if I sat down and talked to the children about the meal and ingredients I had used to make it before lunch the children were a lot more willing to try new foods and eat better. I found it really hard to find resources to teach food education to kids and as a children’s book author and illustrator I knew I could solve this problem.

Amy what's for lunch?

3. Where are you based?
I work from a home office in Upper Hutt. I travel the country to take images and gather stories from growers and food related locations. I meet with a dietitian called Carole Gibb regularly as she helps me with the nutritional information. I have a nine month old baby who plays around my feet as I sit at my computer working on my stories and activities. He is always keen to try the yummy foods I make and is my little guinea pig, and my partner is too. They are great food critics.
4. Can you share a little about your background and how life you lead you to this point?
I love cooking and cooked for my family of six from the age of thirteen while my parents milked cows. I worked as a graphic designer and freelance illustrator for many years in Wellington, Melbourne and Italy. I studied drawing at an atelier in Florence for a year and did some WWOOFing (Willing Workers On Organic Farms) on an organic farm. I really loved the way Italians care so much about quality food and lifestyle. This was a huge inspiration for my ‘What’s for Lunch?’ programmes and you will see the odd Italian recipe throughout. On my return from travelling I created a children’s picture book ‘Catch that Fly! ‘which I self published. While working on this book I took up a part time job as the cook at a childcare centre in the middle of wellington CBD to make sure I was in touch with my target market. This is where my ‘What’s for Lunch?’ journey began. I went to a start up weekend with my business idea in 2012 and took out first prize and have been working on it since.

5. What stage are you at with it today?
Over 8000 students throughout New Zealand have participated in my programmes through primary schools. I have a collection of 6 programmes on topics such as food and nutrition, gardening and sustainability consisting of 48 interactive stories and over 200 activities as well as curriculum plans etc. All aimed at primary school level 1-3 of the curriculum.

6. What’s one exciting dream you’re working towards within What’s For Lunch?
At the moment only schools can register for the programmes. This is something we are in the process of changing and in a few months families and individuals will be able to sign up to the programmes. This is super exciting as I really want to help parents make food fun for their families.

7. What’s been one challenge you’ve had to overcome through running it and how did you tackle it?

The main challenge we face is affordability. In order for schools to be able to afford to take part and buy the food to implement the programme we had to get this right. One of the main challenges all parents face with introducing new foods is whether their children will eat it. No one likes throwing food away or money.

We structured the programme around in season, cheap and readily available foods. We then made sure all the recipes and science experiments were created with only a small number of common ingredients. They also had to be scale-able so that you could make the recipe with a few children or a lot of children. Tasty healthy food doesn’t need to cost a lot of money if you do it right.

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