A new wave of startups, including companies like Blue Apron, Plated, HelloFresh and more, have been catering to consumers looking to cook healthier meals at home, but lack the time to shop and source the right ingredients. Today, a new service called Scrumpt is offering a similar option for kids – or rather, for their busy parents who want an easier way to pack a healthy school lunch.
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This subscription-based service, debuting today at TechCrunch Disrupt SF, lets moms and dads choose from dozens of nutritionally sound lunch items from trusted companies which are combined with everyday staples, like apples and bananas, for example, to create the perfect packed lunch.
The idea for the startup comes from San Francisco-based mother and daughter team, Bri James and Dr. Schery Mitchell-James.
James, previously the director of strategic partnerships at a now-shuttered Bay Area startup Main Street, explains that she was looking for her next project right around the time her mother, Dr. Mitchell-James was retiring after working as a pediatrician for 36 years.
Together, the two decided to focus on something they had personal experience with during the time when James was a child – the ongoing struggle to choose healthy items for a bagged school lunch.
These days, American consumers are increasing concerned about the nutritionally-bereft food found on store shelves, as food producers have moved further away from natural ingredients, instead packing foods with unhealthy chemicals and preservatives, while adding so much sugar that America now suffers from an obesity epidemic.
That, in turn, has led many to become aware of the problem with today’s food, and they’re now shopping accordingly. McDonald’s has been seeing a downturn, for example, while sales at chains like Whole Foods, which focuses on non-GMO products and other organics, are growing.
However, not everyone in the U.S. has the same access to healthy foods as others. Many live in more isolated regions, where organic food stores are simply nonexistent, while others rely on limited selections at more traditional grocery stores. Meanwhile, some parents want to shop for healthy items, but don’t know how to parse nutritional labels. Other parents have the knowledge, but lack the time it takes to peruse the store aisles reading labels.
For all these potential customers, Scrumpt offers an alternative.
After develop a set of nutritional guidelines for the products it offers, Scrumpt today lets parents pick from a selection of 27 different lunch-ready options from a dozen different vendors, like 18 Rabbits, Beanitos and Good Health.
To get started, parents log into the Scrumpt website, enter in their payment information, and then choose from this wide variety of products in order to create their own, personalized lunch kits. Each kit contains three or five pre-portioned lunches which include a main dish, 1 or 2 sides, and a “worthwhile” treat, like a whole grain chocolate graham cracker or organic fruit chips, as well as a napkin and utensils.
You can also find gluten-free, lactose-free, or nut-free items, given your preferences.
These non-perishable or semi-perishable items like hummus, almond butter, cheddar crackers, granola, and pasta, are then augmented by items parents likely already buy – like fruits and veggies. A provided shopping list helps you round out your packed lunches, which you assemble at home or teach your child to do.
In addition, beginning today, Scrumpt will begin beta testing delivery of perishable items in San Francisco.
Three lunches cost $19 per week while 5 lunches are $24.
The founders admit this is more expensive than the heavily subsidized school lunch, but it’s more in line with what parents who pack lunches themselves are already paying (i.e. $3-$5 per meal.)
Plus, adds Dr. Mitchell-James, “there’s a lot more waste in the school lunch…The kids won’t eat a lot of the stuff that’s in the school lunch, so they come home hungry and eat more snacks,” she says.
Besides school lunches, Scrumpt also offers add-ons like after-school snack packs and travel kits that come with snacks and games. You can get 10 snacks for $18.95 or a single travel kit, which also includes things like coloring books, tissues, card games and more.
The idea to help parents make a healthier school lunch at its core is a good one, but the pricing could be a sticking point for many parents who are already struggling with the higher cost of buying healthy, organic foods.
Plus, much of what constitutes a healthy lunch is the fresh food – the whole fruits, berries, and veggies that should fill half your plate.
That means Scrumpt won’t save parents a trip to the grocery store, outside of San Francisco where Scrumpt now ships perishables. And if customers are already shopping the aisles, then they’ll likely have time to grab a few other items (at lower prices!) to round out their kids’ healthy meals.
The bootstrapped startup is live now and ships items for free anywhere in the U.S.