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Convenience Food for Children with a Difference, Established Right Here in Melbourne.
It isn't very often you find a brand of organic convenience food for children on the supermarket shelves, particularly one that gives back to the greater good. That's exactly what you get with Whole Kids; Australia's leading range of certified organic, additive free and allergen friendly snacks for kids, established right here in Melbourne.
I've been lucky enough to spend some time getting to know how and why Whole Kids exists today, after chatting to one half of the co-founding couple; Monica Meldrum.
Monica Meldrum - Whole Kids Co-founder
How and Why Whole Kids Exists Today
You may be familiar with the Whole Kids brand. Perhaps you buy some of the range from Coles, or your children have been served a Whole Kids snack on a Qantas flight. What you probably don't know, is the inspirational backstory into how and why Whole Kids came to be.
Way before Monica and James Meldrum had children of their own, the Whole Kids journey started with an idea conceived by the couple, after Monica's humbling experience working on an international aid program in North Sumatra, Indonesia, with the Department of Foreign Affairs.
The kids in the community Monica worked in, had barely a thing to their name, yet were resilient, happy and remained connected with nature.
On return to Australia, after many years living in a rural, disadvantaged community, Monica knew she had to do something to benefit mankind; a humanitarian project of sorts, to help with the well-being of children both abroad and in her home country.
With 19 nephews and nieces to come back to, Monica noticed how our current generation of children, through no direct fault of busy parents, were fed with convenience food, laden with unnecessary additives, some of which include ingredients banned in other countries.
With an interest in nutrition, Monica and James came up with the idea to launch a pure and organic brand of packaged food for kids, free from unnecessary nasties.
Meetings with Dieticians and Specialists at The Royal Children's Hospital
Going full hog into the business right from the start, Monica and James met with dieticians and specialists at the Royal Children's Hospital, learning more about the links between allergies and food.
The research involved with finding the right foods to offer families, also saw Monica and James communicating with focus groups of 300 individuals.
Taste Tests with School Children in Fitzroy
Obviously, it's not all about what the parent's want their kids to eat, but what children are willing to eat, and so arrangements were made for children in a Fitzroy School to taste test the Whole Kids range.
After tests and research projects were out of the way, Whole Kids launched their first first organic snacks range in 2005. Over time, Whole Kids has successfully landed on the shelves of Coles supermarkets, Qantas airline, and at the end of January, will be stocked in Chemist Warehouse.
While Whole Kids foods started on the bench tops of Monica and James Meldrum's kitchen, now the range of foods are made in bakeries where local organic ingredients are sourced.
Juggling Parenthood and a Thriving Family Business
The Meldrum Family
Almost 12 years in, and the Meldrum's are now a family of four, welcoming two children of their own, while growing Whole Kids as a business. When I asked Monica how they juggle parenthood with their business, she admits it's tough, but they've clearly established boundaries that help.
Monica and James have made a commitment to leave their work in the Whole Kids Port Melbourne office, allowing home time to be just that; time at home, with their children. The couple have introduced their own "zero phone policy" at home, which means no work outside of their full-time office hours.
Whole Kids Giving Back in More Ways than One
Thanks to Whole Kids, Australian families have the option of choosing clean, organic foods for their children's lunchboxes.
" We believe in unjunking our food and our lives. We only choose the finest quality organic ingredients we can find. No artificial colours, preservatives, flavours or other added nasties. Real food made by real people." - Whole Kids
But it doesn't stop there.
High priorities for the Meldrum's when starting Whole Kids, was the ability to give a percentage of the profits back to international community development initiatives.
Right now, Whole Kids donates 1% of all profits to Plan International, an organisation promoting the safeguarding of children all over the world.
Next year, the Meldrum's, children and all, will be taking a trip to Cambodia, to see and experience a Plan International project first hand.
Future Plans for Whole Kids
What's next for Whole Kids? Time will tell, but Monica tells me, future plans would be to expand the existing range, and build awareness of Whole Kids' mission; to continue to better the world for kids of Australia and beyond.