When you were a kid, chances are, the days when you were allowed to pick out your own breakfast meant one thing: a heaping bowl of Lucky Charms or Cinnamon Toast Crunch. And if your mom stocked the house with “healthy cereal,” your only option was something very bland. Bleh.
Kids today may never know that struggle. In fact, when dozens of students took part in a taste-test to decide what would be on the menu for every public school in New York City, they chose Back To The Roots‘ biodynamic cinnamon clusters over tried-and-true Kellogg’s.
“It was so cool to see them bust that stereotype of what kids would and wouldn’t eat.”
In a real life David-and-Goliath moment, the little healthy food and grow-kits startup beat out the big corporate giant. And just like that, breakfast became a whole lot healthier for over 254,000 kids.
“It was so cool to see them bust that stereotype of what kids would and wouldn’t eat,” says Back To The Roots co-founder Nikhil Arora. The change certainly didn’t happen overnight—it was a year and a half in the making. But since the announcement was made earlier this month, the Back to the Roots victory has inspired over 30 other districts to look into following suit. “We’re talking to Boulder, Dallas, hopefully Chicago.” Arora says. “There’s this idea that if it works in New York it can work anywhere.”
Arora launched Back To The Roots eight years ago with friend Alejandro Velez, starting with mushroom growing kits. “We found that the most interest wasn’t from foodies or chefs but from kids who were were just amazed at seeing these things double in size each day,” Arora says. Building on kids’ interest, the brand started a program donating a growing kit to a classroom every time someone posted a photo of one to the brand’s Facebook page.
From there, Arora and Velez worked to get the growing kits worked into the curriculum in over 2,200 STEM (that’s science, technology, engineering, and math) classrooms in California. “We’ve always wanted to demystify food and connect people where it comes from. Kids are growing food in the classroom and they’re seeing the same value in the cafeteria with the cereal,” Arora says.
Plus, to meet the demand of feeding hungry school kids, the Back To The Roots team is talking with their biodynamic farmers, upping the acreage they need.
“These kids who decided on our breakfast cereal don’t know the impact they are having on millions of other kids across the country and on farmers,” Arora says. What’s that line about children being our future? (RIP, Whitney.) With decisions like this, we certainly hope so.