LunchLAB: Chefs for Families
With the closure of schools due to COVID-19, Fresh Roots and Growing Chefs, pivoted our innovative LunchLAB in-school meal program to offer students and their families delicious, healthy, chef-prepared meals out of school. Working with the Vancouver School Board and a fantastic team of collaborators and supporters (including Italian Cultural Centre and Ono Vancouver), LunchLAB: Chefs for Families is providing more than 5,000 meals to 260 families each week.
These meals not only provide much-needed nourishment, but meaningful employment for chefs and kitchen professionals who would otherwise not be working. LunchLAB continues to bring comfort and enjoyment the best way we know how--through non-stigmatizing, tasty meals especially for those in need of a little extra help right now.
Order up a chef-prepared meal for a family in need with a donation today! Each time you place an order, you provide fresh, healthy, restaurant-quality meals, salad making kits, fresh produce, and pantry staples to families in need.
Donate to LunchLAB: Chefs for Families
Why LunchLAB exists?
LEARN: Empower Kids and Youth
Kids learn by doing. In LunchLAB, with the support of their teachers and a Chef-in-Residence, students grow and cook food for themselves and each other to promote broader student learning, fuel them through the day, and encourage them to be leaders in their school and community.
ACCESS: A Good Lunch
Every student should have access to a delicious, local, healthy lunch--a lunch that nourishes the body, mind, and planet. LunchLAB helps provide that access to all kids.
BUILD: A Strong Community
By bringing students together at the lunch table to share meals and conversation, to reflect and reconnect instead of just quaffing down calories, we are forging strong relationships with themselves, one another, and their community.
What is LunchLAB?
In LunchLAB, students learn to grow their own food, supplement that food from local farms, and with the support of their teacher and chef-in-residence, learn to cook for themselves and their peers.
Lord Roberts Elementary, Total Education High School, Fresh Roots, and Growing Chefs! have partnered together to create LunchLAB a new education program where students learn to grow, cook, and share delicious food! What’s for lunch (or dinner… or breakfast… or snack)? is the question du jour. LunchLAB is about helping students be able to answer that question on their own.
LunchLAB changes the narrative about lunch. Students can and do make lunch for themselves and their peers. Learning with their teacher and a chef-in-residence, students help create the menu, make it, and serve it to their peers. It is an exercise in learning and sharing. And it’s delicious.
How It Works
LunchLAB is serving lunch on Mondays and Thursdays
Meals will be plant-forward and aligned with the new Canada Food Guide. Lunches will change each day and will be inspired by what’s in season. Each meal will include a fresh salad bar and a hot item, whether that’s tacos, chickpea curry, or lasagna, it will be packed with delicious flavours and fresh veggies.
LunchLAB costs $5 per meal
Once you enroll, lunch will be available for the entire semester. We want to help make LunchLAB affordable for you AND we want to ensure that the program will be financially sustainable for years to come. We know that living in this city can be challenging financially, that’s why if you need extra help, please get in touch with us to order your student’s meal. There will be a place in the form to do that.
March 30th - June 22nd
Monday and Thursdays (23 lunches total)
Program on hold
March 10th - June 25th
Monday and Thursdays (26lunches)
Program on hold
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Program on hold
- Why LunchLAB?
We believe that everyone should have access to a delicious healthy lunch--a lunch that nourishes the body, mind, and planet. And that’s not always easy. Whether a student has to use their lunch money for school supplies, they choose pop and chips, or forget their lunch at home - all those students are hungry.
We also believe that students can learn by doing. That’s why they are involved in growing and cooking food. They learn not only important food skills, but also about math, literacy, science and more.
On top of that, we know that making lunch is HARD! Enter LunchLAB.
- How does lunch get made (and will my kid eat it)?
- Cohorts of student chefs grow the food, exploring the science curriculum and building critical hands on skills. Then, students cook it with a teacher and chef-in-residence, learning how to meal plan, budget, and how to cook--a skill they will need for the rest of their life. The best part about it--when kids make it--they eat it! It’s an age old method of getting them to eat their veggies. So what are you waiting for, let’s get ready for lunch!
- Learn more about how your student can be one of the student chefs here.
- I love this idea, how can I sign up for LunchLAB?
- All you need to do is click here and sign up!
- I love this idea so much, how can I volunteer?
- Amazing! We love volunteers and we have lots of fun opportunities for family members to take part. Please contact us to volunteer.
- This program is so neat, how is it possible?
- Funding for this program is provided by three main sources: Grants from the City of Vancouver and other philanthropic foundations, parents and guardians who help to buy the meals, and individual donations from parents and people who believe everyone should have access to Good Food.
- If you are able to financially support LunchLAB, we’d love your support. It’s the only way that this program will be able to continue for years to come. Contact us to make a donation.
- I love this program, and want to ensure that it continues, how can I help?
There are three great ways you can help this program thrive:
- First, let us know what you think! Your stories and photos help us be able to share the impact of LunchLAB.
- Second, sign up! Revenue from the program helps us to become a sustainable model that can continue for years to come!
- Third, make a donation to ensure the program continues for years to come! Contact us to learn how.
- When is LunchLAB?
- LunchLAB is every Monday and Thursday when there is school. Depending on your school, you might have a few other days where LunchLAB is not in session, as you order lunch, we’ll let you know the specific details for your school.
- How many students can LunchLAB support?
- LunchLAB can support up to 150 students on Monday and Thursday at Lord Roberts and 100 students at Total Education.
- What happens if this program is not for me and I want to stop participating?
- We understand that LunchLAB is maybe not for your kid or for you. Not a problem, you can let us know and we’ll cancel your orders and issue you a refund for the rest of the program. All you’ll need to do is contact us.
- What happens if we miss a day because we are not at school?
- We offer sign ups throughout the year based on your school’s schedule. We do this to help make it easy for you to sign up and to help keep meals inexpensive. Unfortunately if you miss a day of LunchLAB during the term, we are not able to offer a refund for a particular day.
- I’ve heard that this program is a pilot, what does that mean?
- LunchLAB is a pilot program in partnership with the VSB, Fresh Roots, and Growing Chefs! Funded in part by the City of Vancouver, Telus, a private family foundation, CLICK, and individual donors, we have funding for one year. We are testing this program to see if we will be able to make it sustainable in the long run, which will require parents who can support the program to do so.
- Wow! Students are learning how to cook, how can I or my child/student sign up to be one of the student chefs?
- At Lord Roberts
- Students will be able to apply for the LunchLAB Chef Team. Mr. Brent, the Edible Education teacher, will work with intermediate teachers to ensure all students have access to the application. We will be working with 32 students for LunchLAB. If more students are interested, we will explore having a second cohort in the winter and spring. After students apply, they will have a round of interviews in September. Students who are selected will receive training to ensure they are ready for the full program launch on October 7. Students will be released from their classrooms to work with LunchLAB starting September 23 throughout the year. They will rotate throughout the LunchLAB program twice per month. As students will be missing class, in order to participate in LunchLAB, students will sign an agreement to make up any class work that they have missed.
- At Total Education
- Students in the Foods program with Ms. White at Total Education will be part of LunchLAB. During the first few weeks of the term, students will ‘apply’ to LunchLAB and have practice with a group interview. Then we’ll get cookin’!
- What’s for lunch?
- Each lunch will include items like a beautiful seasonal salad bar, topped high with sprouts, fresh veggies from the garden and local farms, fruit, fermented pickles and kimchi, seeds, beans, and student made dressings. Lunch will vary depending on what is in season and available.
- Every LunchLAB meal will have a hot main. Whether that’s tacos, chickpea curry, palak paneer, ramen soup, or lasagna, you’re going to find it packed with delicious flavours and fresh veggies.
- LunchLAB is plant forward, including lots of veggies and fruits, whole grains and plant protein foods. This is in line with our Food Values, which is derived from Canada’s Food Guide, recommendations for a healthy planet and to ensure that all students can participate. Animal-based foods will be included sometimes, but vegetarian and vegan options will always be available.
- What about allergies?
- We know that many students have different dietary restrictions, allergies, and needs. While we are not able to accommodate specific dietary requirements, allergies, or requests, every LunchLAB will serve a vegetarian option and use low-risk allergenic foods. Your child/student will choose from a salad bar with multiple veggies, pickles, and toppings, as well as from one or two hot entrees. If they have a veggie that they do not like or are allergic to, they can avoid choosing that option. However, some mixing of items is to be expected. If your child/student has specific dietary restrictions or allergies, this program may not be the best fit at this time. Should you have any questions please do not hesitate to get in touch.
- How much does it cost?
- Each meal costs parents or students $5! Wow! We want to help make LunchLAB affordable for you AND we want to make sure that we can ensure that the program will be financially sustainable for years to come.
- We know that living in this city can be challenging financially, that’s why if you need extra help, please get in touch with us to order your student’s meal. There will be a place in the form to do that.
- We’re all in this together. If you’re able to support a student in need, please let us know in the sign up form. When we all work together, we can help make sure that everyone has access to a healthy, delicious lunch. Should you choose to sponsor a LunchLAB meal, we are able to share a charitable tax receipt.
- Why is ordering ahead of time important?
- While we’d love to serve everyone, we also know that we can only serve LunchLAB to those who have ordered online, or been in touch with us about their situation. This ensures that we keep kids safe, that we make the correct amount of food, and ensure that we can keep this program running for years to come. LunchLAB will only serve those students who have ordered online with us.
- What are the terms of service for LunchLAB?
- You can read our terms here.
- I'm having trouble filling out a registration form. Help!
- We'll get you on your way ASAP. Please contact us.
- I have a question which isn't answered here.
- Please contact us with your question.
- I’ve been reading all of this information, and now I’M HUNGRY!
- Lunch is just around the corner! Sign up here to get started!