Idli Dabba steps in with healthy, tasty snacks for kids in school

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For most parents, getting their children to eat something before they rush off to school seems a Herculean task. They ultimately give in when the child has a bite of something for breakfast, and in the process often do not realise that they have failed miserably in providing a nutritious breakfast.

“Fussiness about food is a normal part of a child’s development. The haste associated with getting ready for school and the lack of variety in the food prepared at home results in boredom. Even the most determined parent can be cowed down by a child’s resolve not to eat, rather than eat something boring.

As a result, parents often give in, deciding that a bowl of cereal or some ready-to-eat stuff, while not ideal, is better than no food at all. Parents feel like it is their job to make their child eat something nutritious,” observed V Saravanan, founder of habitos, a food start-up.

Saravanan mooted this start-up in December 2016, after conducting an extensive survey to understand the food habits of children across schools in Coimbatore. “Our findings revealed that an average child’s breakfast did not even meet 40 per cent of the actual nutritional requirement and the lunch consumed by the child is devoid of vital micronutrients. We decided to address this gap by providing a nutritious snack during break time to fill the void created by a poor breakfast.

Habitos has since signed up with nine schools for its products – five for snacks and five for nutri-lunch, besides setting up canteens in two schools.

Palaniappan, Chief Strategy Officer, habitos, said the company – Idli Dabba Pvt Ltd, is looking to ink agreements with 30 schools across Coimbatore by September for supply of snacks. “We want to be recognised as a nutritional partner to schools,” he said.

The snacks are delivered at the doorstep of every class, based on a menu designed by a nutritionist, and just 10 minutes before the break to ensure that the food is served fresh and is enjoyed by the children. “We serve safe and nutritious food, besides offering variety as well,” he added.

Idli Dabba has a kitchen in Saravanampatti, where around 6,000 snacks and 1,000 meals are packed every working day. “We have imported machinery. We will be shifting to a new premises soon. This kitchen should be ready by July. It will have the capacity to prepare 20,000 snacks and 3,000 meals. We are expecting to sign up with more schools and reach out to 12,000 students for snacks and provide lunch to 2,000 students. A number of schools have evinced interest,” Saravanan said.

The company, in the meantime, is looking to foray into Chennai and Bengaluru soon.

Saravanan said Idli Dabba will reach out to 20 cities in five years. The promoters of Idli Dabba have invested Rs 2 crore on this venture. The company is now looking to raise about Rs 12 crore for expanding into Chennai and Bengaluru. “We are looking at private equity. There is huge potential. Business apart, there is a sense of satisfaction as well, as we are able to help in the healthy growth of children, help them perform well in academics as well,” he added.

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