Ruthie Burd had an autistic son, with all the attendant scheduling challenges that entails. So, back in the early 1990s, she was looking for a business she could do from home, in the afternoons and around his schedule. She remembers reading about a New York entrepreneur who bought sandwiches at delis and delivered them to offices, and wondered if she could do something similar for children's lunches.
She set up shop as The Lunch Lady
in 1993, offering to make lunches for schoolchildren, though she says it was nearly two years before she got into a single school as a provider. Today, the business she launched in Vaughan -- she started selling franchises when it got too large for her to manage in 1999 -- has 47 franchises across the country, employs about 235 people, and provides healthy meals in 824 schools as we talk this week (a gain of five schools since just last week).
Burd says that when she started, people didn't really think what she was offering was valuable, but in the intervening years awareness about healthy eating for children has led to rocketing growth. "I think we were a little ahead of the curve. People's attitude to food is changing, and we're really now attracting customers, staff and franchisees who are passionate about eating healthy."
Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Ruthie Burd, The Lunch Lady