The Lunch Lady is Committed to Food Quality and Safety

Your child’s safety and happiness are our first priority. Having served schools for over 18 years, we know that maintaining high standards for our products and services is essential. We are committed to serving meals that are not only consistently nutritious and delicious, but safe for your children to enjoy.

Here are just some of the many things that the Lunch Lady does to ensure top quality food at an affordable price:

Our Kitchens

  • All food prepared in regularly health inspected commercial kitchens
  • Frequent monitoring by our Head Office Operations Team
  • Menu and product testing through our corporate test kitchen in Vaughan, ON
  • Random in-kitchen and in-classroom quality testing by Franchisees and Head Office

Our Food

  • Menus developed by a highly trained menu planning team
  • Recipes designed to meet and exceed all provincial nutrition standards
  • Nutritional analysis, publically available to all customers
  • Ingredient & allergy listings for all food items
  • Only the highest quality ingredients
  • All franchise partners are required to be Food Safety Compliant and take a Regulated Certified Food Handler course recognized by the Ministry of Health.

Our Suppliers

  • Food sourced through commercial suppliers
  • Documented research on every food vendor
  • Constant engagement with manufacturers to develop and source new products
  • Routine sampling of new products

Frequently Asked Questions

Where is Lunch Lady food prepared?

Every Lunch Lady lunch across Canada is made in a Regional health inspected commercial kitchen.

Does the Lunch Lady meet provincial nutrition standard?

The Lunch Lady is committed to exceeding all provincial nutrition standards, including Ontario’s new PPM150. We fully comply to the Ontario Ministry of Education policy with every ingredient and our goal is to have our menu items above and beyond 80% Sell Most.

Who prepares the food?

Every Lunch Lady franchise partner is independently owned and operated by a member of your community. Franchise partners are hand selected by Lunch Lady Head Office and are constantly monitored by a team of highly trained operations managers.

How does the Lunch Lady source its products?

We source our products exclusively through a commercial distribution system. Every supplier is required to provide us with product information including nutritional and allergy declarations to ensure food safety.

How are new ingredients and nutritionals monitored?

The Lunch Lady Group’s menu planning team, which includes a nutrition manager, formulates exact specifications and measurements for the preparation of our lunches. For every new menu, our team researches nutritionals, ingredients, and allergens for every product on every menu across the country. The ingredients we use in our recipes are never altered. Recipes are followed with no deviations. (i.e. adding “extras” or more product than specified). All lunches have been formulated to be consistent in nutritional values and allergy management. We have created these particular formulas for our lunches so that the end product is constant wherever our lunches are served and so that allergy management and nutritional values are maintained.

Nutritionals for all menu items are available through your local Lunch Lady.

Are franchisees trained in food safety?

Our franchisees and at least one of their employees in a supervisory position are required to take a course to be a Certified Food Handler, recognized by the Ministry of Health.

Introducing New Foods to Picky Eaters

Nothing is more worrisome and disheartening for a parent than a child who will not eat, or one who will only eat one or two things.

Our son Brendan, now 15 was a shining example of a fussy eater. Part of his resistance was that being autistic, he did not like the tactile feel of most foods. I know that experts often advise, “when they are hungry enough, they will eat” but we could never be sure with him because his need to stick to his rigid attitudes was stronger than his appetite.

However, he, like most young children liked games, so we made trying new foods into a game and it worked like a charm.

We used a combination of things he liked and foods he refused.

Here’s an example of how to turn snack time into a fun time

To play you need:

  • 1 picky eater
  • 2 little pieces of a food that is liked [apple]
  • 2 little pieces of a food child has refused to try before [broccoli]
  • 1 “treat type” food [balance the good fun with fun.. make it an oatmeal cookie]
  • 5 little squares [could be a cut up placemat]

The Rules

  • Make a line with 5 little placemat squares in front of the child.
  • Put a food item on each square as shown with the treat furthest away
  • Eat your way to the treat [no shortcuts allowed]

You can use all sorts of foods like cheese, and crackers, and melon etc and even add more selections as you go by adding more pieces of placemat and more food items. Kids really like to help set it all up

Remember this is a game with no good or bad outcomes. It’s just a game.

Don’t get overly excited if they actually eat the previously refused item or too upset if they just can’t do it.

Just say “Oh, I guess you don’t want to play this game with me right now” and put it all away for another time.

You can also make a line for yourself and play along and take turns with your child. Maybe there is something you don’t like to eat!

Now you may be wondering how it worked out with our son. Well. I’m happy to say that today he eats lots of veggies and believe or not really likes Brussels sprouts and even spinach!

— Ruthie Burd President and Founder, the Lunch Lady

Guest Post: Teaching Kids Manners, Techniques for Success and Canada’s Etiquette Expert, Louise Fox

Reblogged from Where Parents Talk

Article by Daniella Girgenti, with files from Crystal Cossitt

Today’s kids aren’t any different than the children you see holding doors for pregnant women as they struggle into the grocery store or giving up their seats to an elderly person on the bus on Leave it to Beaver reruns. Teaching a modern child about etiquette and manners is possible.

“As a parent, you wouldn’t think of sending your child off to play hockey without proper equipment and a pair of skates or to school without lunch money,” says Louise Fox, Canada’s etiquette expert. “In the same way, you do your children a disservice if you send them into the world without proper social skills…Empathy, our ability to put ourselves in someone else’s place and imagine how our words and actions make them feel, is what manners are really all about. “

In order to get kids on track and acting mannerly, Fox says that parents begin on the right path “as soon as [children] are born. We care for them, feed them and cuddle them when they cry. By these actions, you are teaching your child empathy; showing your understanding of their needs and wants and meeting them. Your baby watches and responds to you and learns this valuable life lesson.”

So how can parents keep on a positive and continue nurturing their children’s empathetic behaviour to raise perfectly mannered kids? Fox recommends the following top tips for teaching kids manners:

Model good behaviour at home: Children observe your behaviour and will follow what you do. It is important to treat others with respect and teach your children what this means. When you show respect, others tend to show you respect in return.

Start from a positive position: Always use the magic words – please, thank you, you’re welcome, I’m sorry – in conversation. Children learn to talk by mimicking what they hear. If they always hear you say ‘please’ when you ask for something and ‘thank you’ when you receive something, it will be a normal response when they learn to talk.

Make etiquette a part of your daily family life: Kids need to know that good manners are important all the time – not just when they go out or when they want something.

Everything that can be learned needs to be taught: Rather than beginning to correct your child when you are out or in an unfamiliar place, prepare before hand by telling your child what they can expect to happen, what they need to do and how you expect them to act. When they know how to behave, they tend to behave.

Remember that most etiquette rules are common sense: Explain to your child that not chewing with your mouth open is important because its shows respect for the other person who doesn’t want to see you eat like an animal. Practice polite greetings with family members and others saying “Good morning” or “Hello, how are you today?”

Reward positive behaviour with praise.

By setting the stage for a life of using proper social etiquette, Fox says that a parent’s goal of ensuring good manners become a habit and not something you just bring out on special occasions can be realized, making it possible for your children to go through life knowing “how to behave in situations and deal with more important things.”

A message from the Lunch Lady herself!

Big thanks to FogLight for putting together this short video of Lunch Lady founder Ruthie Burd while she was attending a recent event! In the video Ruthie introduces our program and what we can do to help schools create a healthier food environment for their students.

The Lunch Lady is Already Compliant with Ontario’s New School Food and Beverage Policy!

A message from our founder…

Dear Families, School Council Members, School Administrators and Staff:

At the Lunch Lady Group, we are very excited about the new Healthy School Food and Beverage Act in Ontario. We would like to take this opportunity to assure you that the Lunch Lady is fully PPM150 compliant and is a big supporter of the Act and ones similar to throughout the country. Across Canada, our meals have always abided by strict nutritional standards. Adopting PPM150 has just taken a little tweaking to account for some unique elements of the legislation and our meals have been fully compliant since September 2010.

In 2009 when legislation was introduced to ban industrial transfat from school food, the Lunch Lady made a submission to the Ontario government encouraging them to go further and provide additional nutritional guidelines for school food. As a result, we were honoured to be invited to participate in the development of the new legislation by serving on one of the Healthy Menus Writing Teams set up by the Ministry of Education in October of 2009.

The requirements are strict, it is true, and sometimes they present challenges to food providers but at the end of the day, we feel they have been introduced with the best interests of Ontario’s children at heart and we are happy to abide by them. We believe that schools do educate by the choices they offer and that most parents appreciate the introduction of regulations that will limit the amount of nutrient empty foods available for sale at school.

We conducted our own survey in October 2010 and of the 12,000 parents who responded, 75% were in favour of the government regulation of food at school. That’s pretty amazing and encouraging!

For our part, the Lunch Lady will continue to strive to create menus that are interesting, healthy and yummy for the students at your school as our business grows. Now in our 18th year, the Lunch Lady delivers her good hot lunch program to students in over 900 schools and every day we learn something new about how to improve and enhance our programs to better serve school communities.


Ruthie Burd

President and Founder

To view the School Food and Beverage Policy Click Here. For more information on the School Food and Beverage Policy and the work that the Lunch Lady is doing to ensure compliance, please feel free to contact your local Lunch Lady or our national head office at or 1-800-603-6656.

Crisis Mode?

by Guest Blogger, Lianne Castelino, Where Parents Talk

I heard a line during a recent interview that really struck me. It succinctly describes what (for the most part) parenting is today.

Parents today “suffer from a crisis of conscience and confidence,” went the quote. Bang on, I thought. Truer words were never spoken. Shout it from the rooftops so everyone can hear.

It came from a mother of three kids in their 20’s and 30’s who seems to have a very pragmatic, common-sense approach to parenting.

Think about it…..we parents, by and large, analyze almost everything. Perhaps it’s a function of the times we live in. There is just so much more out there to question.

The “conscience” part refers in large part to the inability to say no, to think that our kids need to have everything, or at least most things or something bad will happen, to feel copious amounts of guilt for anything and everything related to raising our children — most of it irrational and unfounded. Today’s parents often treat their children with kid gloves. They are not fragile, porcelain dolls — neither parent nor child. We need to give ourselves and our kids some more credit.

The “confidence” part speaks to how the consequence of our parenting decisions leave us (parents) feeling. How will my kids react, how will other parents see me, what will my own parents think? It also seems to describe the constant need for external support and validation from so-called experts. There is nothing wrong with reasonable amounts of advice-seeking, but too much cannot be healthy.

Whatever happened to using plain old, wholesome, honest-to-goodness common sense to raise children.

Sure, it still exists, but it doesn’t appear to be the overriding tool in child-rearing today.

I strongly believe in intuition and instinct in child-rearing with a healthy dose of common sense. In other words, always trying to cut through all the white noise, the heaps of clutter and simply reverting to the basics. Sharing stories with other parents in the trenches, and asking for support are most definitely very important, but at the end of the day give yourself some credit. After all, we did manage to bring them into this world didn’t we?


Lianne Castelino: Lianne is an award-winning journalist with more than 18 years of experience as a television anchor and reporter in news, sports and lifestyle programming. She has spent most of her career as a news and sportscaster at CTV. A seasoned producer, Lianne has co-created, written and directed several award-winning parenting DVDs, co-authored a nutrition cookbook for toddlers, and co-hosted/produced a parenting radio program on the Corus Radio Network. A passionate writer, she has written scripts, produced web content and videos for corporate clients. She currently hosts “Parents Talk” on Rogers TV Toronto. Lianne is also a media relations consultant. She is married and the mother of three.

RECIPE TO RICHES is looking for Canada’s best recipe for a chance to win $250,000!

At the Lunch Lady we know that there are some extremely talented cooks among our customers, and when we heard that the Food Network was searching for a recipe that could win $250,000 we knew we had to tell you!

Recipe to Riches is a new reality TV show on Food Network and Global TV looking for Canada’s best recipe and offering a $250,000 grand prize and a chance to become one of 7 new President’s Choice products.

Just bring your favorite dish to one of their upcoming open calls in Halifax, Vancouver, Montreal or Toronto! Pre-register online at under Applications to reserve a time slot.

For full category information and details on what to expect consult the frequently asked questions page on their website.

Happy cooking!

Franchise Info Sessions Coming to the Vancouver Area!

We’re hosting Franchise Info Sessions in the Vancouver Area January 26th and February 22nd!

Have you ever wished you could make a secondary income for your family while maintaining a flexible schedule? Do you like working with kids and being involved in your community? Are you ready for a more fulfilling career? If so, a Lunch Lady franchise may be the perfect opportunity for you.

Lunch Ladies and Lunch Guys not only provide a valuable service, but they also enjoy a flexible schedule which allows them to operate on ‘teacher’ hours and vacation time. For many franchise partners “The Lunch Lady” was exactly the lifestyle change they were looking for.

With over 17 years of experience, the Lunch Lady is Canada’s largest elementary school lunch provider. This fall Lunch Lady founder Ruthie Burd was selected as one of Canada’s Top 50 Mompreneurs of 2010 by Mompreneur Magazine.

Thanks to the Lunch Lady, many parents can now benefit from an individually catered hot lunch program in their school. Today the Lunch Lady serves over 800 schools and more than 2 million lunches a year through a network of nearly 50 franchises across Canada.

We’re growing quickly! The number of communities we serve has more than doubled in the past three years. The Lunch Lady might just be the business opportunity you’ve been waiting for. To learn more about this exciting franchise opportunity please visit the Franchising section of our site or contact

Live in BC? Attend one of our upcoming info sessions in BC. Email or call 604-941-8383 to reserve your spot!

Session information is provided below:

January 26 – 7:00 PM
Italian Cultural Centre, Room #4
3075 Slocan Street
Vancouver, BC

February 22 – 7:00 PM
Holiday Inn and Suites – North Van
700 Old Lillooet Road
North Vancouver, BC

Parents Unite and Take Back Your Cupboards!

It is pretty safe to say that most parents know what good food choices are. The problem is that most kids [like us adults] are motivated by cravings for sweet and salty foods, not carrots. And with such busy lives, parents don’t want to spend limited family time arguing with their children about food.

If you have visions of the multigrain sandwich you spent so much time, planning for and shopping for and making going into the garbage along with the apple you packed your fears may be justified.

We make lunch for thousands for kids in elementary schools every day and here’s what we see. The “healthy” stuff is often accompanied by a whole range of snacks meant to be eaten after. But kids don’t eat food at school in the order you intended and eat the sweet salty treats first and wash them down with the drink and then feel full.

This type of “full” does not last. Kids run out of the fuel they need to learn before the school day ends. When they get home they are really hungry and unfortunately start to rummage around in your snack stash because it is easy, it is portable and can be eaten while on the computer.

In real terms, this means that you have inadvertently enabled your kids to live mostly on snacks since breakfast.

Here’s what you can do:

1) Accept that kids eat the easiest foods first and plan for it. If you are worried that they will eat the cookies first, then pack only one cookie so that the treat will not be enough to fill them up. The need to eat will move them on to the healthier offerings in the lunch bag

2) Remember you are the keeper of the cupboard. You decide how many treats you will buy for the week. When they are gone, do not buy more. Bring out the carrots, the whole grain bread and the shredded cheese and flour tortillas. Hungry kids really will eat anything.

Good luck. Be strong. Remember YOU are the parent.

Are Chicken Nuggets BAD?

The article Chicken Nuggets: Good Intentions Gone Bad? by Karen Collins, published for the American Institute for Cancer Research, addresses our shift away from red meat to chicken, including the ever popular Chicken Nugget. Children love Nuggets but should children be eating them? Are Nuggets the first step on the road to obesity and poor health?

I am not a nutritionist or a food professional but after spending 16 years encouraging healthier alternatives for children attending elementary schools, I am concerned that we may be getting caught up in the Good Food, Bad Food Controversy. We have been shifting the blame for our tendency to get heavier with each generation from one food to another without solving the problem. What not to eat can be just as much a fad as what to eat. There is no weight gain mystery. We eat too much and too often! The simple solution is to worry less, eat more fruits and vegetables and eat smaller portions of everything else.

Collins writes “The complete answer about chicken nuggets can’t be found simply by comparing them with various alternatives. The nutritional impact depends on how the overall meal is put together”. She is so right! It’s the overall fat, calorie, sugar and sodium impact of whatever we eat that makes the difference. At the end of the day, Chicken Nuggets are just one little piece of a huge Food Smorgasbord. It’s how many you eat at one seating that counts – four Nuggets is a reasonable serving. Nuggets are not all created equal so read the box to check the nutritional content and bake them to avoid adding extra fat.

So are chicken nuggets bad? No, not really. What truly matters is how we put our food together and as time goes by, I realize that some of those old clichés our parents were fond of, like, “everything in moderation” [except fruits and vegetables of course – we need more of those] still make sense.

— Ruthie Burd

Ruthie Burd is a Mom and the Founder of the Lunch Lady.