By Allison Gray
Everyone remembers picking through their bagged lunch as a child, sneakily throwing away a few items they didn’t like.
School lunches were boring. Parents didn’t like packing them. Kids didn’t like eating them.
But that’s all about to change. Four small companies have teamed up in an initiative called “Rock the Lunchbox” to help parents prepare creative and healthy lunches for their children. With several of the companies’ employees being parents themselves, they knew kids and parents were frustrated, but they needed the facts to prove it.
After conducting a survey through Harris Interactive, the companies found that 54 percent of kids gave their lunch a grade of “C” or lower.
“There’s an opportunity to do better,” said Sarah Bird, Senior Vice President of Marketing and “Chief Mom Officer” at Annie’s Homegrown.
Now, in an effort “to do the right thing,” Stonyfield, Organic Valley, Honest Kids and Annie’s Homegrown have recently vowed to combat “lunchbox preparation fatigue,” Bird said.
Since they launched the Rock the Lunchbox website — www.rockthelunchbox.com — in early July, it has received 237,000 page views, with the companies expecting 100,000 page views per month going forward, Bird said.
On the website, parents are able to submit images of lunches they’ve packed for their children and search through other parents’ creations. Visitors can even narrow their search for “vegetarian,” “gluten-free” and “nut-free” options.
And because of the launch’s success, Bird said, the companies are discussing extending the campaign, rather than what they initially planned: a back-to-school push and then letting the website progress organically.
Through a Survey Monkey poll, the Rock the Lunchbox team discovered that more than half of kids interviewed said they were given nearly the same lunch every day. Seventy percent of parents said they struggled to find variety when packing lunches, and 59 percent struggled to find healthy options.
“I desperately need new lunch ideas!” Laurie Snoonian said on the Annie’s Facebook page, in response their new campaign.
“Glad we can find something better than Lunchables,” Cory Quandt said, also on the site.
Now when kids open their lunchbox, they might be surprised to find a friendly frog made out of spinach wrap, a Hello Kitty hardboiled egg or sandwiches cut out like dinosaurs.
One of the site’s most creative submissions came from Alexandra Woodmansee.
Woodmansee boiled an egg, colored it with pink dye and cut small triangles from the top to resemble a tulip, setting it in a bento box on a bed of brown rice. For the stem, asparagus. For the grass, peas. In an adjacent box, she set four ham-and-cheese floral cutouts and strawberries on a bed of fresh lettuce.
Florida is the most active state on the site, followed by California, Texas and New York, though Rock the Lunchbox receives submissions from across the nation.
The website also includes tutorials from each company with advice for parents on how to pack a lunch that’s both healthy and fun.
“We are like-minded, mission-driven companies with a commitment to quality and trying to do the right thing,” Bird said. “This was the perfect thing for us to focus on.”