When my daughter started preschool, I started a new activity in my kitchen: lunch packing. There was no school cafeteria, and, as a health-conscious parent, it was the only way for me to properly feed my child at lunchtime. So I sent her to school with an extra bag and boxes containing the food that would help her shine the rest of the day.
I thought I would totally nail it. But I was wrong. The more I packed lunch, the more I felt emptied and crushed by this daily task. I lacked ideas and mechanically packed the same food day after day. Despite her young age and shyness, my daughter complained. She told me that she was fed up with the lunch boxes I packed. That was when I realized that, for millions of busy families all over the world, lunch packing is a daily challenge.
Lunch packing, a tiring lonely experience
In America, half of school-age children bring a lunch from home to school. That means that there are 15 million families starving for ideas, for motivation to try something new, and for strategies for easily turning these ideas into lunches. There are resources abound, with cookbooks, magazines, and social medias. But there was no easy and fast way to help. Moreover, nobody likes feeling alone, and that was exactly what I was feeling each evening, in front of the empty lunch box I had to fill.
Something had to change. Lunch packing, indeed, had to become a positive experience. As I was searching for a solution, I met with a lady who was also packing lunches for her two kids. We became friends and began working together. We built the first (free!) online lunchbox community, Teuko, that helps lunch-packers keep on being inspired and motivated, one lunchbox at a time.
Positively transformed by the power of a community
Packing lunch in Japan has been quite overwhelming except that now I have found the Teuko Community to journal my efforts. I love Teuko because there is no feeling of competition or pressure to be great. Diane
Families from all over the world can now be empowered against the lunchbox grind. They can find inspiration and motivation in one unique place. There are no requirements regarding the lunch boxes that people post on Teuko or share with us in our social feeds (#Teuko). Kindness is the only requirement. Of course, I can observe that healthy lunchbox ideas with real foods remain the most popular posts. And when people post their lunchbox ideas in Teuko, they have the five food groups guide to help them pack balanced lunches.
I love to browse at random menus from other parents on Teuko and to see the variety: I find it motivating. Jenna
The reason why there are no food requirements is simple: there is no right or wrong when you pack a lunch for yourself or for a loved one. We are all unique. We have different tastes, cultures, and diets. The notion of healthy is different for everyone. We are simply all together fighting against the lunchbox grind in our own way, by tracking what we pack and by inspiring and motivating the other lunchbox packers.
Bringing lunchbox creativity altogether
The result of bringing this lunchbox creativity altogether is undeniably superb. We travel around the world through our lunches. We try packing in a cute style or we rediscover minimalist and nutritious lunches. One day we make a monochrome lunch, and another day, we prefer assembling a colorful “eat-your-rainbow” lunch. All these textures, shapes, and colors coming from the food we pack makes lunch packing an ephemeral art that people can only celebrate when they are together.
Behind all the photographs posted online, there is a mom, a dad, a grandma, a teacher, a neighbor, a friend, and so many other wonderful people who packed these lunch boxes. Teuko is much more than a tool or a new social network on the web, it brings people together for real.
Online, and in real life
While building the app, I also had the chance to meet with extraordinary people. Most of them were busy moms, packing lunches daily for their children, and sometimes for the whole family. And yet, these moms also worked on protecting the planet with alternatives to disposable plastics. They brought STEM to kids with cooking classes. They create a new line of hats and sunglasses to help the prevention against skin cancer. Behind each lunchbox idea, there is an amazing person making our world and the future of our kids better.
The food put in these containers, the lunch ideas shared each day, are an opportunity again to have conversations with our friends. We are freed to express ourselves through our own unique way to pack all these lunches. We can enjoy sharing our tips and advices. It has become possible to make our own kids happy to have a similar lunch to what their best friends had a few days before. Our world is full of different people, and I am happy that our differences are expressed through our lunch boxes. Lunchbox creativity is enhanced when we are together.
About the author
Jessica Gury is a French mom who lives in San Francisco (U.S.A.) with her family. She is also the CEO and co-founder of Teuko.com, a free online community for lunchbox packers. Previously, Jessica was leading SAP projects for major companies in Europe, with CGI and Accenture. Traveling and discovering new cultures, food, people and traditions are her passions.