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Thrive Cafe + St. Andrews = healthy lunch
Kickstarter begun for ambitious 'win/win' effort
Chef Wendy Armstrong of Thrive Cafe

In something of a groundbreaking move locally, Savannah's first and only Green Certified restaurant is partnering with a school to provide lunches for students.

Thrive Café on Whitemarsh Island is teaming up with St. Andrew's School and are asking for your support in a Kickstarter campaign to fund the purchase of kitchen equipment for the ambitious project.

Thrive chef/owner Wendy Armstrong and St. Andrew's Public Relations Director Scott Searcy explain how the collaboration came about.

"In one way it came out of the blue, but in another way it's something that's been building for a long time," Armstrong says.

Searcy says, "We knew we needed to make a change. We were using one of those big food-service type providers for big institutions. But we were looking for something more local and something healthier."

The other ingredient in this recipe is Thrive's presence in the community.

"I feel like this relationship with the school has been building since Thrive opened. We're well known by parents and staff at St. Andrews. They're our customers, a lot of them," Armstrong says. "There's been this undercurrent of a relationship the whole time."

Searcy agrees:

"We looked around, and Thrive is a close neighbor and very popular with our families. Also they're the only green restaurant in town. So we reached out to them to see if they wanted to talk more about the idea of working together," he says.

"And we said, well of course we would," Armstrong laughs.

After a round of meetings, the plan was realized, Armstrong says, in part due to the fact that "the administration over there is very progressive thinking and entrepreneurial minded."

"We tell our students to be innovators and 21st century learners," says Searcy. "So we thought we should practice what we're teaching. This thing with Thrive is a win/win — healthier food for the same price, educational opportunities for everyone."

In addition to providing meals, the idea is for Thrive to also be a part of a more holistic effort to include discussions of healthy eating into students' experiences.

"We have a community garden on campus. This past year it took a hit — it wasn't getting the attention it needed," Searcy says. "Wendy is interested in helping us get the garden going again. It's a great outdoor classroom. We're also talking about getting Thrive into the real classrooms, so this could be more than just serving food to young people — it could be a real educational partnership."

The Kickstarter campaign has a goal of $30,000, which Armstrong says will buy "equipment good for cooking from scratch. We also need equipment that can process large amounts of fresh food."

Armstrong says she sees healthy food in schools as a key to better health for all Americans.

"Unhealthy food in schools is why this generation will live a shorter lifespan than their parents. It's just because of what they eat, and that's controllable."

She sees the partnership and the attention the Kickstarter campaign is getting as part of a bigger movement.

"We could go large with this — it's like Jamie Oliver's cup of tea," she says.