It ranks among “Are we there yet?” and “Can we leave now?” as the most dreaded kid-to-parent interrogative phrase. And for most parents packing their kids’ lunches, the answers are usually underwhelming at best—a peanut-butter-and-something sandwich, $5 and a prayer that they’ll spend it on more than just cookies, or, for the I-don’t-have-time-to-provide-you-something-nutritious offenders, a shrink-wrapped Lunchables with couldn’t-pronounce-it-at-gunpoint ingredients. Yikes!
New Rochelle resident Candida Canfield combats the “lunch problem” with Lunch in Hand (914-380-5084; www.lunchinhand.com), a healthy, home-style lunch provider—an alternative to the slew of more traditional, but less nutritious, lunch contractors out there. Here’s how it works: Canfield signs on as a (private) school’s sole hot-lunch provider. Parents, for anywhere from $6 a day for the little ones to $9 for high-schoolers, can register their children for six months’ worth of lunches. Then, meals are delivered daily, hot from Lunch in Hand’s industrial kitchen in New Rochelle.
At the four private schools she’s partnered with so far (Thornton-Donovan and Lyceum Kennedy in Westchester, plus two in Manhattan), Lunch in Hand is serving up meals that “kids will actually eat,” she says. Among them: roast or barbecue chicken with brown rice and broccoli; cheese tortellini with creamy tomato sauce, served with whole-wheat bread and a “very green garden salad”; chicken quesadillas with Spanish rice, salsa, and sour cream; and the venerable roast turkey breast with mashed potatoes and broccoli.
The difficult part, Canfield says, is straddling the line between what parents want
(nutrition, nutrition) and what kids crave (buttery cheesy pasta, and more buttery cheesy pasta). With each passing school year, she says, she’s learning to strike the balance.
Canfield wound down another catering business (Dinner in Hand, ironically, which provided weekday dinners for families) in 2013 to focus on building her lunch base. Good thing, because beginning in 2012, Lunch in Hand signed on with its first summer-camp customer. At press time, she was on board to cater two camps this coming season.