Scooter heard through a parent or two about a New York company, called Butter Beans, that is serving up some nutritious delicious pointers to 14 New York City schools by supplying them with wholesome, seasonal lunches. In addition to eating gourmet, the kids get a brush up on their food education, enjoy cooking classes and, this year, there was even a summer camp. Butter Beams will oversee the preparation of some 1,400 hot school lunches per day this autumn. We reached out to the firm to grab a bite of what’s cookin’ their kitchen…
How did Butter Beans come to be?
Butter Beans was founded by two mothers who are passionate about the food their children eat. After deciding to start their own business and talking to other parents about the best way to improve what children eat, Belinda Di Giambattista and Felicia Desrosiers ventured out to change the way school children eat school lunch by making them healthy, delicious meals for schools. Their company is called Butter Beans, a name that comes from Belinda’s childhood of shelling butter beans from her grandparents’ farm to sell at the farmers’ market.
What is most alarming about the way kids in NYC are eating at lunch?
The amount of sugar that can be packed into a simple lunch is alarming. Everything that appears to be healthy can be full of sugar and you not know it because of the marketing—whether it is flavored yogurts, flavored milks, or other packaged staples, unless you stop to add it all up, you don’t realize how easy it is to give too much sugar. Also, children love meat. It is also very easy for them to eat a lot of meat and not enough fruits and vegetables.
What else needs to be done?
If the entire community pulls together and agrees on a very simple message of eating healthy, it would be a step toward teaching our children how to make healthy decisions on their own, so that they ask for fruit or crudités with hummus instead of yogurt straws. We do not want to make a big deal about eating healthy or make them scared of sweets, but rather demonstrate good healthy habits of our own so that they have a good example to watch and learn from.
Any great success stories thus far?
This is Butter Beans’ fifth school year and we are excited to be kicking off the year with 13 schools enjoying our made from scratch fare. Over the years, we have had many parents share stories about their children’s improved eating habits since participating in our lunch and cooking class programs. Every time we read or hear about one of these stories, it reminds us of why we started this business and show up every day.
How can concerned parents get involved?
Concerned parents can work with their school administrators (in private or charter schools) and relentlessly explain why they should talk to Butter Beans about providing a healthy lunch. All parents of private and public schools can speak to their After School Coordinators about having a Butter Beans cooking class offered in their after school. We have seen many picky eaters come through our cooking classes much more adventurous eaters when they finished the semester. Kids love to get their hands dirty and make food. They will try just about anything they make themselves and this opens up their minds to try other peoples’ creations as well.
Butter Beans also offers a farm to table summer camp which is a great opportunity for students to learn about cooking, farming, etc.
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