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Ever since she can remember, Lisa Farrell has taken a keen interest in food, health, and the environment. The Winthrop native gives regular thought to the ways in which these things come together to impact our well-being. It is a subject she addresses with her two young boys, and it is a message working its way into Great Boston schools in the form of a homemade lunch.

“I’ve always taken pride in the foods that I make for my kids,” says Farrell, recognizing that the time it takes to create balanced, nutritious meals is not always on hand for some families. “It just shouldn’t be that hard to give your kids good healthy food for lunch when you are a busy parent.” Farrell saw an opportunity to help and Red Apple Lunch was born. “It was a no-brainer—it’s something that people really want.”

Her base model is home delivery of school lunches. Farrell mimics a homemade lunch, offering kids an alternative to school-served lunches, which aren’t always the best option for a variety of reasons. For families who view preparing school lunches as a source of stress, this is a highly appreciated and trusted service. “They know their kids will get a wholesome, responsibly sourced lunch,” says Farrell, adding that it’s a way to take one more thing off their to-do lists. “And that’s why we started this.”

Red Apple Lunch began as a small pilot program in the fall of 2016. Using friends for her trial run, Farrell dropped off free lunches to families in Cambridge and Arlington. It was their positive response that started the ball rolling. She put up her website and began taking online orders the following spring. This fall starts her first year in full swing.

How does it work? Parents visit to select lunches for the week. The lunches typically consist of a main protein, a vegetable, a piece of fruit, and a treat; an additional snack or drink is optional. Prices range from $6 to $9 and are determined according to the child’s age.

For ingredients, Farrell has her mainstay and her seasonal sources. “We try really hard to thoughtfully source local ingredients—it’s a work in progress,” she says. Fruit and veggies come from regional organic producers, which include Kimball’s Fruit Farm and Meyers Produce in Vermont. Her bread is baked daily by Iggy’s Bread in Cambridge, and cheese, eggs, and dairy are from a distributor in Everett. Operating out of a shared commercial kitchen space at Stock Pot Malden, Farrell roasts meats, bakes treats, and blends juices and smoothies. Her seasonally inspired menu calls for finger foods that are fun, easy, and kid-friendly. 

Once lunch boxes are packed (she uses compostable packaging materials), personalized with the child’s name, and ready to go, they are delivered to families to have for the next day. Red Apple Lunches are currently delivered to 11 towns and cities in Greater Boston, including Winchester, though Farrell will go where there is demand. This past summer she also served day camps. 

With the goal of creating a company that “does the world a bit of good by giving back,” every lunch sold is matched by a healthy snack pack for a child in need at Bread of Life in Malden. Farrell has also formed a partnership with the Greater Boston Food Bank.

Asked what kind of feedback she has received so far, Farrell says, “The reaction I get is: ‘Where have you been all my life?’” 

Red Apple Lunch