Lunch Lady 2.0

Restaurants take on school lunch.

Close up of childrens' hands on pink and orange lunch boxes.
With restaurants chipping in to help parents find lunchtime solutions, no one wants to trade the contents of their lunch box. / Dmytro ©

The pandemic has brought many new challenges for families with school-aged children. Parents now play the additional roles of principal, teacher, and also lunch lady. Families that relied on cafeteria programs were left scrambling for new ways to provide lunch for their kids. Boulder’s River and Woods was inspired by the lunch challenge and has devised a creative solution: sheet-tray meals that are consistent, convenient, and affordable. 

As a parent himself, River and Woods’ chef Daniel Asher was drawn to helping those affected. He reached out to the Chef Ann Foundation, a program dedicated to providing healthier meals in schools, to address the issue. The two teamed up to create sheet-tray meals that feed up to eight. Each pan will cost between $45 and $65; $4 from each order will go to the Chef Ann Foundation.

Because the program currently only exists in Boulder County, Mara Fleishman, CEO of the Chef Ann Foundation, says each meal’s recipe will be posted on the foundation’s website to encourage larger reach. Every recipe has been designed to work for all levels of food access while also being affordable and healthy. This is key for Asher, who laments any amount of child hunger. “Why are people walking around on this Earth suffering from any level of food insecurity? Why is that normal? I want that to make people uncomfortable,” he says.

If your restaurant is interested in joining the program, reach out to Messa, the foundation’s strategic integrations coordinator, at

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