ParentsGuide of Las Vegas recently sat down with Matte Blackham, owner of Healthy Kids LV, to talk about its up-andcoming lunch program, which is spreading rapidly throughout the valley. She smiles politely as she fidgets with her iced tea and I can’t help but notice her attention is really across the street at the line in a fast food restaurant.
PG: Amazing how long people will wait in line for a 2000 calorie lunch, isn’t it?
Blackham: Beyond amazing. I understand when I see adults, who have a limited amount of time on their lunch break to grab a “quick bite,” but it’s the cars packed with kids that drive me crazy. I understand taking kids to a fast food restaurant on occasion, but the sad part is that, for most kids, this happens each and every day. This is exactly what prompted me to start Healthy Kids!
PG: Tell me more about Healthy Kids.
Blackham: Healthy Kids LV restores healthy, balanced eating habits to children today. The world has changed since I was a kid. Now, parents are both working. Due to the economy, some parents are working multiple jobs and cooking a full meal at home is not practical for a lot of families. They wind up ordering pizza or in a drive through lane. My mission is to ensure that children get at least one well-balanced meal each day, while they are at school. Kids shouldn’t grow up thinking that life is all about chicken nuggets and burgers.
PG: If given the option, do kids like and eat healthy foods?
Blackham: Yes! They do. Multiple studies show kids are more likely to eat their vegetables when their peers are. I have had parents insist that their kids will not eat broccoli. Well, we serve steamed fresh broccoli with our mac and cheese- and guess what- the kids eat it! It’s such a victory to get these kids eating their veggies. It’s why we do this.
PG: Who is “we”?
Blackham: I’m so glad you asked. “We” is my amazing staff that makes Healthy Kids happen every day. They are parents, just like me. I like to hire people who can emotionally connect to our cause.
PG: That’s nice. You hire parents who know the struggle to get kids to eat right- first hand?
Blackham: Parents in Las Vegas are facing so many issues right now. People are struggling to pay their bills, and the focus may not always be on whether the kids are eating their vegetables. This is why I hire parents who are out of a job and need the work to take care of their children. We also took our plight to some of the local businesses out here. They have been great.
PG: What types of local businesses have gotten involved?
Blackham: Several local businesses and some pretty big names in the food manufacturing industry have worked with us to sell us product way below cost so that we can provide the quality of product we do at the prices we do. We are serving kids premium, restaurant-quality food for less than a parent could pack a lunch.
I am guilty of packing sack lunches, too. I have cruised the aisles swiping up every single packaged convenience item my children plead for. Puddings, Frozen “crustless” PB &Js, granola bars, fruit snacks shaped like Sponge Bob… Three months later I am purging expired Dora shaped graham crackers and iCarly yogurt sticks that my kids suddenly are no longer interested in.
PG: Not to mention the early morning hassle of trying to throw together a lunch while you are already running behind.
Blackham: …and the garbage truck is racing down the street. My mind instantly flashes to that RUN of shame in my PJs, trying to get the garbage can to the curb as the neighbors look on with sympathy.
PG: Or worse, making the lunch and-
Blackham: …and forgetting it! Yes!
PG: How do parents find out if your service is available at their children’s school?
Blackham: Well, they can visit our website at www.HealthyKidslv.com to see a list of schools and daycares.
PG: And if it’s not listed can parents still get the lunches?
Blackham: Absolutely. We deliver all over the Vegas valley. We do need permission from the school, so I encourage them to speak with their principals, school directors and PTA committees. I also encourage parents to contact me directly. The number of parents who want better food at their child’s school is why our program is expanding so quickly. I am very proud of the quality and taste of our food.
PG: Do you deliver to adults?
Blackham: Only if they are willing to repeat the fifth grade!