Little Woman Lunches Back On The Menu

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By Amy Senk | Corona del Mar Today

Little Woman Lunches
Little Woman Lunches

Things began as a simple act of motherly love two years ago, when Corona del Mar’s Little Woman owner agreed to drop off sandwiches for her twins at Corona del Mar Middle School.

And now, after a brief, school-ordered break and changes in how parents drop off all lunches to students, the delivery service is back in business.

“A lot of moms bring kids their lunches,” Lynne Campbell said. “I’m busy, I’m not driving to CdM with Subway. But finally I agreed to bring Little Woman once a week.”

But the toasted sesame salmon salads, bbq pulled pork buns, swordfish tacos and other Little Woman lunches quickly caught the eyes of friends of Campbell’s twins, who are now sophomores at the school. They asked to be included, she said, and then some parents heard about it wanted to join too.

“In the beginning, it was 10 lunches,” she said. “Then it was 15. Then it was 25. It just grew. I became the lunch delivery lady.”

Lunches were delivered first on Tuesdays. Then Campbell added Wednesdays and Thursdays. A special Corona del Mar High School lunch menu was created — no burgers, which are hard to keep warm, or grilled cheese, which “just get greasy and gross,” Campbell said.

Instead, students were able to preorder and prepay for a selection of sandwiches, salads, teriyaki bowls and ceviche in season.

“I looked at it like a great marketing thing,” she said. “To me, most of these kids’ parents are Quiet Woman customers. These kids live here, drive by every day.”

Normally, sandwiches cost $13, but she was charging $8.50.

“I didn’t lose money,” she said. “I got a lot of good will. It was all word of mouth. I wanted to stay under the radar. I didn’t want it to get so big I had to stop it.”

About a year ago, school officials asked that Campbell no longer drop lunches off at the school’s attendance office, where employees were helping with distribution.

Campbell understood and instead began distribution at a school bus turnout on campus.

Then in January, the middle school principal ordered the delivery service to stop. Security and district vendor protocol were the reasons, Campbell said.

“I do understand that,” Campbell said. But on the other hand, she said, she didn’t. Nor did more than 100 parents, who signed a letter asking for the deliveries to be reinstated.

“I was deluged,” she said. “I got 250 emails in the next two days saying ‘This is terrible!’”

After several telephone calls with district and school officials, the lunches were again allowed. In a March 21 email blast to parents, middle school principal Guy flguin said that conversations with district officials led to the reversal.

“We have been given the OK by the district to once again allow The Little Woman (TLW) to deliver prepaid lunch orders to the CdM campus,” he wrote. “However, the front office will not take any lunches that are not picked up at the bus turn-around by students. TLW will simply take the unclaimed lunches away with them to be discarded back at the restaurant. We will continue to monitor the delivery days to ensure that the process runs as smoothly and efficiently as possible.”

Campbell said she bumped the price by 50 cents, with that money and a matching donation from The Quiet Woman going to the middle school to boost its fundraising efforts. As much as $10,000 a year could be raised from the lunch deliveries, she said.

Students who lined up for their Little Woman lunches this week said they were glad it was reinstated.

“I thought it was pointless,” said Helene Mahmood, an eighth-grader. “People just want a good lunch.”

Read the full story here.

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