They came up with the Balanced Day lunch kit, a lunch bag with two unique compartments fused together and clearly labelled for break one and two. It’s a simple idea but one that’s caught on. Blackwell and Petcoff have sold thousands of the bags so far and with more schools in Ontario poised to switch to balanced day business is not about to slow down.
In Ontario about 800 schools currently use a balanced day schedule, which means that the school divides its day differently. Instead of one long lunch break and two short recesses, schools on a balanced day schedule, have two nutrition breaks. Children eat for about 20 minutes of the 45-50 minute break and the rest of the time is spent outdoors at recess or lunch. The concept was piloted by the Peel District School Board in Ontario. Soon all the schools in the province are expected to implement the balanced day. Schools that use the balanced day have reported an increase in attention and more benefits related to greater physical activity.
“It’s really taken off. We’re very surprised,” said Petcoff recently. “My sister’s kids were going to the balanced day and she was trying to find something with separate compartments and there wasn’t really anything available. She called me with this idea.”
Together they brainstormed and researched the concept for the better part of a year. In May of 2008 they had their first bag ready for the public. They imagined they might sell to friends and family. Initially they ordered a shipment of 500 and began with a grassroots sort of sales approach. They set up tables at a few schools and sold their funky lunchbags at school barbecues and open houses.
“We would go to a school and sell 70 in one hour,” said Blackwell.
When Payton started full days at school in SK and had two separate nutrition breaks we had problems. I packed all of her food together and let her choose what to eat and when. Big mistake as she often ate the entire lunch for first break and had nothing left.
The kit was designed to fill a need. To help your child actually save some food for second break, reads the web site. And to make sure they’re not eating dessert at 10 a.m. The bag ladies web site also offers some balanced and nutritious lunch ideas for parents.
“We’ve had our growing pains, but people have been very patient,” said Petcoff.
In their first year of business the two London Moms encountered a couple of obstacles, including a liner that initially had some problems and had to be redone. And brisker sales than they ever expected meant playing catchup with orders at a number of Ontario stores and on their flourishing web site. The insulated bags have space for ice packs, napkins and utensils inside. A variety of cute colours and new designs, including camouflage and a kitty cat pattern are being offered. The sisters are now looking at developing some adult lunch bags for shift and factory workers. They also plan to sell bag tags to track your child’s belongings in future. Right now $2 from the sale of every kitty cat bag goes to Backyard Friends, an organization that rescues pregnant cats and kittens.
To order contact: http://www.balanceddaylunchkit.com/.
The products are also available at various children’s toy stores such as Scholar’s Choice in Ontario. The kits are now available on the shelves of several retailers across Canada. Also available on the site are eco packs, stainless steel water bottles and ice packs.