Kung pao vs. the hot dog
Wok Box Capilano Square is setting out to “take over hot dog day” at North Vancouver schools by offering healthy and equally delicious Asian cuisine as an alternative hot lunch meal.
Natasha Purnell, who owns the North Van Wok Box franchise with her husband Jarrod, says a Handsworth secondary parent who was a fan of the Pan-Asian quick service restaurant introduced them to the hot lunch program in the North Vancouver School District.
“We started with Handsworth last summer and it streamlined from there,” she says.
Select Wok Box meals fit the criteria for the Brand Name Food List — B.C.’s nutrition standard for schools.
At the high school level, approved lunch box options are beef teriyaki, kung pao chicken, Mongolian chicken and Asian vegetables, all served with rice.
Elementary school kids can dive into fun-sounding boxes like dragon chicken and jungle noodles disguised as nutritional lunches, such as teriyaki chicken with broccoli and julienne vegetables with chow mein, respectively.
“It’s different; it tastes so good,” explains Natasha, of the popularity of Asian-inspired lunch boxes. “The food is in a little red takeout box and you get a fortune cookie at the end.”
Handsworth is the largest hot lunch contract for North Van Wok Box, which delivers there every Tuesday and Friday. A handful of North Van elementary schools including Braemar, Cove Cliff and Upper Lynn Valley offer Wok Box Day once a month.
Wok Box is cognizant of kids’ dietary restrictions and allergies; their lunch boxes can be tailored to suit many diets including gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian and peanut-free.
Nastasha says Wok Box is also overcoming the stigma of Asian cuisine being unhealthy.
“Everything is cooked fresh to order,” she reassures. “Every other day we are at Kin’s Farm Market at Capilano Mall picking out fresh vegetables.”