Local Couple Seeks to Improve School Lunches With Wholesome Tummies Franchise

Photos courtesy of Wholesome Tummies
Michael Alba and his wife, Donna, launched Wholesome Tummies in Houston in August 2013.
One of the most pressing issues concerning childhood obesity deals specifically with the lunches and snacks that are served to students in schools. For years, many people have fought to force schools to serve healthier lunches. In 2010, British chef Jamie Oliver began his "Food Revolution" in America, hoping to improve school lunches and educate children and parents about healthier diets. Although he faced obstacles in public schools when he attempted to bring in fresh foods, eliminate sugary chocolate and strawberry milk, and prove fresh food tastes better than highly processed and fried food, he sparked great conversation and debate about juvenile health and nutrition.

Houston has been deemed "the fattest city in America" by Men's Fitness, and that's nothing to joke about, because the problem doesn't begin and end with adults; it affects children of this generation and generations to come, as well.

This is where Michael Alba and his family come into play. In August 2013, Alba, along with his wife, daughter and sons, began operating Wholesome Tummies, a national franchise that provides healthy lunches to schools.

Wholesome Tummies serves chicken sandwiches for lunch, but they are much healthier than fast-food versions.
"My wife and I, we were working in the medical field, and we both work for a leading cancer hospital near the center, and we have seen the effects of unhealthy eating habits, so we wanted to make a difference in our children's lives," Alba says. "We said if we can make a difference in the way our children eat, and start early, then we can help them -- and teach the parents -- and this would be an excellent way to do it. "

The Albas are both registered nurses; Donna works full-time dealing with orthopedic and urology patients, and Michael works part-time with bone marrow transplant patients and Wholesome Tummies.

Currently, the Albas have a contract with the Southminster School, which is located in Missouri City, and are securing more contracts with private and Montessori schools for the coming school year.

"Right now it is just Southminster School, and we are talking to another school -- we are hoping by the end of the month," he says. "Most of the schools have a lot of interest, but we are finding that because we got a late start, they have already signed contracts with different lunch providers. We are very excited for next school year."

Alba also hopes to attract preschools and Montessori schools as customers.

"We provide healthy, made-from-scratch lunches for mainly private schools, and there's no MSG, no high-fructose corn syrup, no artificial trans fats, no artificial flavors or colors and no artificial nitrates," Alba says. "We always use the highest-quality ingredients."

Each day's meals are prepared in the morning by a chef at an off-site location, ensuring that each item served is fresh. The month's menu is posted online for parents to review and choose the foods their children will eat daily. Nutritional information is also available for each item.

This story continues on the next page.

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