TAMPA — A highlight of Ethan and Hunter Hart's day is often lunch at school, when the twins get to eat steak burgers, hot dogs and french fries.
The fifth-graders at the Montessori House Day School in north Tampa love the taste. But there's an added benefit: Their mother loves the nutrition.
The steak burgers are made from naturally and humanely raised beef, the hot dogs do not contain antibiotics, hormones or nitrates, and the french fries are air-baked.
The lunches are provided by Evos, a casual, order-at-the-counter-type restaurant that touts healthy eating and natural foods. Evos delivers lunches to the Montessori House Day School, as well as 10 other private schools throughout Hillsborough County.
And starting in June, Evos will begin selling lunches to children participating in the Tampa Parks and Recreation Department's summer camp programs.
"We reached out to Evos because we were looking for other alternatives for parents," said Linda Carlo, a Tampa parks spokeswoman. "Health and wellness are very important, and we're very concerned about childhood obesity. We're very excited about this."
For $5, parents get to choose between an all-beef hot dog, air-baked chicken breast strips or a steak burger, which come with Sun Chips, fruit or veggie and bottled water. A vegetarian option also is available.
For every lunch sold, Evos will donate 50 cents to Tampa, which plans to direct the money toward a scholarship that pays for low-income children to take part in the city's after-school programs and summer camps.
The city will offer Evos lunches each day at seven camp locations. The remaining summer camp sites will have that option on Fridays.
Based on summer camp capacity and assuming full participation, Evos could end up providing 52,000 lunches to campers this summer, Carlo said.
"It is super cool," said Evos spokeswoman Jackie Macaluso. The city "understands the benefits of what we do at Evos and what makes us different."
One parent, Kristin Brown of New Tampa, has two daughters who are enrolled in gymnastics camp for two weeks at the New Tampa Recreation Center this summer.
The price is a little steep with two children in camp, she said, but she would consider participating sporadically.
"Not having to pack a lunch and knowing that they will get something healthy is a good thing," Brown said. "I think it's a great idea."
At the Montessori House Day School's two campuses, about half of the 150 students purchase Evos when it is delivered on Thursdays. Prices range from $3.50 to $5, depending on the selections.
"The parents are very receptive," said principal Charlene Burns. "And it's very popular among the elementary schoolers."
Evos, which has three locations in Tampa and one in St. Petersburg, has been selling lunches to private schools for about two years, delivering about 1,000 a month. The restaurant is in negotiations with other private schools and expects to double its school business this fall, Macaluso said.
Dong-Phuong Nguyen can be reached at (813) 909-4613 or [email protected]