A Better School Lunch, “Made by Moms”

No-Fuss Lunch, a program in Bergen County that feeds up to 1600 schoolkids a day, started in 2012, when Gabriella Wilday noticed that her daughter was coming home from first grade cranky and tired—not the child's usual mood.

Gabriella Wilday, founder of No-Fuss Lunch
Gabriella Wilday, founder of No-Fuss Lunch
Photo: Jean Terman Photography

"So I asked her to bring home whatever part of the [cafeteria] lunch she wasn’t eating,” says Wilday, 46, of Ridgewood. “There was a lot of white food, white pasta and white bread. She just wasn’t eating, and frankly I couldn’t blame her.”

Around the same time that September, she noticed hundreds of lunches being delivered to the school every day by parents and local businesses.

That’s when Wilday, who has two younger children and also owns a frozen sauce company named Gaby’s Sauce, offered to provide organic, made-from-scratch lunches to seven of her friends, who each had one child in school. In exchange, she simply asked for feedback.

With help from her mother-in-law, Anne Brouillard, Wilday set to work in her commercial kitchen in Hawthorne preparing and packing kid-friendly entrées, organic fruits and vegetables, bottled water and handmade treats.

The rationale was simple. "There is no nutrition in a lunch that goes uneaten,” Wilday says. She set out to “break the inertia that has been associated with lunch in schools and cafeterias, and provide food that kids like to eat, made in a healthy way.

"I am a mom," she adds, "and I feel that lunch is an important part of the day. I wasn’t satisfied with what was out there, so I decided to create something that I felt was better.”

Thanks to enthusiastic reviews from the kids, word spread faster than peanut butter on bread.

By November she had enough orders to officially launch the business. Two years later, her team of 18 now create hot and cold lunches delivered to 22 schools in Bergen County. By next month, she hopes to be making lunch runs to Morris County as well.

The company’s trademarked motto is Made by Moms.

Parents can go to nofusslunch.com, register their child by school and grade and start browsing daily menus.

No Fuss offers 8 to 12 entrées a day, like whole grain cheese pizza rolls, Bell & Evans breaded chicken tenders and baked ziti with tomato basil or broccoli pesto sauce. In addition the menu includes soups, salads and sandwiches.

Everything is made with non-gmo ingredients, no white flour, no white sugar, no high-fructose corn syrup.

Gluten-free and vegetarian options are always available, and each meal includes an optional condiment dip such as hummus, sour cream, yogurt and ketchup, and an anti-bacterial wipe for sticky fingers.

Meals can be ordered in small, medium and large portions for $3.75 to $7.49 per day.

 

SUZANNE ZIMMER LOWERY is a food writer, pastry chef and culinary instructor at a number of New Jersey cooking schools. Find out more about her at suzannelowery.com.

 

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