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Lake in the Hills business on a 'Wholesome' mission

Published: Tuesday, March 5, 2013 5:30 a.m. CST • Updated: Tuesday, March 5, 2013 8:18 a.m. CST
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(Sarah Nader - snader@shawmedia.com)
Jennifer Bychowsky, owner of Wholesome Tummies in Lake in the Hills, packs a bag with healthy food for students on Monday, March 4, 2013.
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(Sarah Nader - snader@shawmedia.com)
Chef Cathy Saso works in the kitchen at Wholesome Tummies in Lake in the Hills on Monday, March 4, 2013.
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( ())
Chef Cathy Saso (left), Mike Bychowsky, Jennifer Bychowsky and Matthew Bychowsky, 5, at the Wholesome Tummies kitchen in Lake in the Hills.

LAKE IN THE HILLS – Jennifer Bychowsky is determined to change the way kids eat – one school at a time.

In January, the Lake in the Hills resident opened Wholesome Tummies, a franchise that provides healthy food options to schools and parents, at 9471 Ackman Road, Lake in the Hills. The business already has one client, Trinity Oaks Christian Academy in Cary, and Bychowsky plans to add additional Chicago-area schools for the upcoming school year.

Bychowsky opened Wholesome Tummies after 15 years as the corporate travel director for a consulting firm. Her husband and co-owner, Mike, owns a Young Rembrandts kids art franchise; so staying within the children’s franchise industry made perfect sense, especially when combined with her passion for healthy living. With Bychowsky’s own son starting kindergarten this fall, concerns about school lunches and kids’ nutrition are more apparent than ever.

“Wholesome Tummies’ mission really struck a chord with me because there’s a serious need for change in school lunches and what we teach our kids about healthy eating,” Bychowsky said. “Health concerns like cancer, obesity, and even ADHD can all be traced back to a poor diet; and the earlier a child learns the importance of eating right, the better off he or she will be in life.”

With Wholesome Tummies, Bychowsky gives schools and parents the opportunity to have their kids served healthy, balanced meals, prepared fresh daily. Each month, Wholesome Tummies’ nutritionists and chefs develop unique (and kid-tested) menus. Recipes are designed with the portions and nutritional content for growing children and include crowd pleasers like pizza, macaroni and cheese, chicken tenders and baked French toast. The team creates two new items each month to keep things interesting.

The process is simple. Wholesome Tummies will contract with schools; and just like with any outsourced school meal, parents can choose to opt-in to the service and place orders for their kids through the Wholesome Tummies 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 and then delivered to schools in time for lunch. Lunches can also be prepared on-site if a school has its own kitchen. Plus, unlike many menu options, Wholesome Tummies allows parents to order just 36 hours in advance for added flexibility and can be canceled, if needed, as late as 8 a.m. the morning of pickup.

Bychowsky said her Wholesome Tummies location will be the first in the country to incorporate an in-store pickup option in addition to school delivery – parents will be able to place orders for ready-to-eat family meals. The menu, which changes daily, includes a main dish that is ready to reheat in an oven-safe tray and two side dishes. Meals are portioned for families of four or six and can be ordered as soon as 36 hours in advance.

Bychowsky plans to launch a similar family program for in-school fundraising, where parents can order Wholesome Tummies pre-made dishes through their kids’ school, which then earns 10 percent of proceeds. Both the fundraising program and in-store pickup are launching this spring.

“In the month since I’ve been catering to Trinity Oaks, the kids have already progressed from wanting chips and sweets to enthusiastically selecting healthy snacks like carrots and dip,” Bychowsky said. “It’s so rewarding to see them getting excited about eating right. Wholesome Tummies is truly making a difference.”

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Wholesome Tummies:

What: A business that makes nutritious meals available to children where they live and learn. Founded in 2007 in Orlando, Wholesome Tummies began franchising in 2010. Since then, Wholesome Tummies has expanded to 10 locations throughout the country, with plans to double that number in 2013. Long-term goals call for 250 locations within the next five years.

Where: 9471 Ackman Road, Lake in the Hills

Information: Call 224-858-4421, or visit www.wholesometummies.com

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