Chicago business provides made-from-scratch meals to local schools

Gourmet Gorilla sources from mostly Midwest vendors, including pasta from Wisconsin, meat from Michigan, organic vegetables from Growing Home and more.

CHICAGO—At first glance, Gourmet Gorilla's industrial kitchen in River North looks like any other, with oversized pots and pans, a whirl of aproned workers and rubber-matted floors. But check out the ingredients: Every weekday, founders Danielle Hrzic and Jason Weedon churn out 10,000 made-from-scratch meals for children in 90 Illinois and Wisconsin schools from locally grown, organic produce.

What's more, their business of providing family-style meals to school kids is part of a grander mission to bring the farm closer to the table by buying from urban growers.

The married couple had two inspirations. The first was urban farm pioneer Harry Rhodes, executive director of Growing Home, Chicago's first U.S. Department of Agriculture-certified organic farm. The other was the processed food their older son was served when he began preschool. The food coloring and preservatives were not what they wanted him to eat.

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