EDMONDS, Wash. — It is not your standard school cafeteria, and it is definitely not serving up typical school lunches.
Chefs at Edmonds restaurants Salt and Iron and Market Fishmonger and Eatery are preparing inexpensive, healthy lunches for local students who are stuck taking classes at home as the school year begins.
On the menu Tuesday was fried rockfish with fries, fruit and salad. Other items include steak, chicken teriyaki, fish tacos and grilled shrimp.
Each meal costs parents $5.
"We asked ourselves what we would want to feed our kids for lunch," said Alex Marek, culinary director for the two eateries. "You gotta have protein, starch, a vegetable and fruit. We wanted to make it approachable for kids but also delicious."
The meals are a godsend for parents like Katie Dunsmoor.
Dunsmoor works in the food service industry and hasn't had a paycheck in almost seven months.
"I was the head of purchasing for a large catering company and we lost 90% of our business overnight," she said.
Katie has had to turn to her family for help feeding her two kids.
Now that school is starting, lunches are one more thing to worry about.
The $5 lunches are providing a bit of stress relief.
"Sometimes it's just nice to get out of the house and have a change of pace," Dunsmoor said. "It makes me feel proud to have these businesses in our community that are looking for these solutions."
There is a growing movement across the country to connect local chefs with school districts to bring higher quality lunches to students.
Dunsmoor would love to see a public-private partnership in Edmonds.
"School lunches, right now, are lackluster, at best," she said. "We could meet the budgets and the nutritional requirements. If we can take this momentum and turn it into something that will work well for the school district, why wouldn't we?"
"We'd love to try it," Marek said. "In the future we'd love to sit down and try to come up with a healthy alternative for kids in schools."
Healthier school lunches could prove to be one positive takeaway from the pandemic.