February 17, 2014 // Franchising.com // Houston, Texas - Looking to make an impact on the growing childhood obesity epidemic in Houston and beyond, local resident Michael Alba and his family debuted Wholesome Tummies – the first and only kids' food franchise in the U.S. – August 2013. Wholesome Tummies' mission is to make fresh, nutritious and exciting foods available to every child, everywhere, by introducing a Healthy School Solution to local schools.
As a clinical nurse at a leading national cancer center and an ICU nurse at a major hospital in the Texas Medical Center for the past 12 years, Alba has seen the dire consequences of unhealthy eating habits and a sedentary lifestyle in his patients. His experience has led to a desire to start a health revolution targeted at local kids. Alba feels Wholesome Tummies nutritionist- and kid- approved school lunches can stop Houston from being dubbed, "America's Fattest City" by inspiring children to make healthier choices when it comes to their diets, without sacrificing taste.
"Having worked in healthcare, I think I can make more of a difference in people's lives by offering this program to children and educating them at a young age, rather than trying to reverse the effects once they're in adulthood," said Alba. "Health promotion is always easier and more cost-effective than disease management."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years. Right now, more than one-third of children under 18 are considered overweight or obese, and current projections are that 50 percent of Americans will be obese by the year 2030. For the 60 million school-age children in the U.S., half of their daily food intake occurs at school. Unfortunately, many kids are not getting the nutrients they need from their everyday school lunches, which is where Wholesome Tummies comes in.
The Healthy School Solution consists of three parts: access to fresh foods through Wholesome Tummies' lunch, catering and vending programs; education to teach about real food and further the educational mission of schools; and involvement activities like fundraisers and a scholarship program that keep parents and kids engaged and schools invested.
The process is simple: Wholesome Tummies contracts with schools to deliver meals each day. Recipes are designed by nutritionists and chefs with the ideal portions and nutritional content for growing children, and include crowd pleasers like pizza, macaroni and cheese, orange chicken and baked French toast. The team creates two new items each month to keep things interesting. Parents can choose to opt in to the service and place orders for their kids through the Wholesome Tummies (WT) Café website. There are no long-term contracts and parents can order as many meals each month as they wish, whether it's one meal or an entire month's worth. Meals are prepared fresh each morning in a commercial kitchen, then delivered to schools in time for lunch. Meals can also be prepared on-site if a school has its own kitchen. Plus, unlike many other lunch programs, Wholesome Tummies allows parents to order just 36 hours in advance for added flexibility, and meals can be cancelled, if needed, as late as 8 a.m. the morning of pickup.
To get the business off the ground, Alba has enlisted the help of his family: His wife, Donna, serves as a managing partner, while their son, Jheru, handles sales and marketing, their daughter, Chiza, heads up customer relations, and their son, Mhiko, manages operations. Seeing great potential in the Houston market, the Alba family hopes to eventually expand into the greater Houston area.
"Houston faces a huge obesity problem, and we are front-runners fighting against this issue by nourishing and educating younger generations to ensure a healthier future," said Alba. "We hope to inspire youth to make better food choices and are so excited to begin working with the community to expand Wholesome Tummies."
The Alba family signed a franchise agreement with Wholesome Tummies in the spring and officially launched in August 2013 in time for the 2013-2014 school year. Their territory is the southwest Houston area, with a focus on the Sugar Land region.
Founded in 2007, Wholesome Tummies expects to have at least 25 units by the end of 2014 and double every year thereafter, with long-term goals calling for 250 units, 2,000 schools, and $200 million in system-wide sales by 2017. Expansion is focused on current territories and anywhere a passionate, qualified candidate exists.
To tweet this release: @WholesomeTum #franchise opens in Houston, brings healthy lunches to local schools www.wholesometummies.com
SOURCE Wholesome Tummies
Sanderson & Associates