As a life-long healthy eater, Ann Marie Woolsey-Johnson was disenchanted by the baby food she was feeding her now 4-year-old daughter Sabine and began making her own. Years later, after finding disappointing research on school lunches, Woolsey-Johnson is on a mission to provide healthy lunch options to students throughout Kingston.
Since she was between jobs and looking for something to do, Woolsey-Johnson took a course at Cornell University to become certified in plant-based nutrition, rented a commercial kitchen, put up a website and started Kingston Clean Lunch Company, a business aimed at providing an alternative, healthier solution to lunches offered at public schools.
The business was originally named Hudson Valley Clean Lunch and covered Dutchess and Ulster counties, but she scaled back her geographical influence to solely Kingston. A portion of every purchase is donated to a food pantry or other service that targets food insecurity in Kingston.
“I started off with a fundraiser,” Woolsey-Johnson said. “I had quite a few contributors and the focus was very nonprofit when I started out. I knew I wanted to create a business model that was based on donations so for a while I kept going down that path and recently it has gone in more of a business direction and I’m still at the very beginning stages.”
According to Woolsey-Johnson, most of the business’ advertising has been done through Facebook which she claims has generated a lot of interest.
The kitchen is open Tuesday through Friday every week and operates on Kingston City School District’s schedule.
Currently, three sandwiches are available for order: the Vegan Humdinger which has hummus, avocado, carrots, and tomatoes on a sprouted wheat or whole grain wrap; the Applegate Farms Turkey Avocado Wrap with cilantro, tomatoes and Vegenaise dressing; and the Applegate Farms Organic Roast Beef with Vegenaise and salad greens on Bread Alone organic bread or a whole grain wrap.
“If you look at my mission statement, it’s really rooted in providing kids with healthy food and keeping things as local and sustainable as possible,” Woolsey-Johnson said.
All sandwiches are made with organic and regionally-sourced food and are available gluten free upon request. Cheese can also be added for an extra 50 cents and a R.W. Knudson juice box is one dollar. Each sandwich also comes with a side of raw organic local fruits and vegetables depending on what is in season.
Woolsey-Johnson is still awaiting her first customer. Orders must be placed five days in advance to ensure quality and can be placed up to a month in advance with payment due at the time of the order. Lunches are typically prepared the same day the order is placed (or the next day if order is placed after hours). Home delivery is available for Kingston residents and there is no charge for delivery.
Due to state regulations, delivery to public schools is impossible at this time. The Kingston Clean Lunch Company also has a no return policy, but offers a partial refund in the event of a school cancellation.
Woolsey-Johnson would also like to add a same-day pickup service, but has yet to settle on a location. For more information or to place an order, call 845-332-2026 or visit www.kingstoncleanlunchcompany.com.