A guide for parents and children to find healthy kids’ menu choices at restaurants has been introduced by the National Restaurant Association and Healthy Dining. I reached out to the president of Healthy Dining, Anita Jones-Mueller, to learn more.
More than 15,000 restaurant locations are participating in the initial launch of Kids LiveWell. What does this program mean to the industry, and what are its goals?
For the industry — and for America’s families — the Kids LiveWell program is the start of something really big, really exciting. This initiative, led by the National Restaurant Association, in collaboration with Healthy Dining, has the potential to make a significant difference in the lives of our nation’s kids and future generations. Kids LiveWell showcases restaurants that offer kids’ menu choices emphasizing lean protein, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat or fat-free dairy. Those are the ingredients that help kids grow, thrive and live each day to its fullest.
The goals of the Kids LiveWell program are to 1) encourage restaurants to offer a selection of Kids LiveWell choices and 2) make it easy for families to find the Kids LiveWell choices at restaurants nationwide. Participating Kids LiveWell restaurants are featured on the new Kids’ platform on HealthyDiningFinder.com. Restaurants can also identify the qualifying choices on their menus with the Kids LiveWell icon.
What are some healthy menu items that restaurants have introduced? Any unexpected offerings?
Nineteen restaurant brands, representing 15,000 locations, partnered with us as “Inaugural Leaders” of the Kids LiveWell program. The Inaugural Leaders exemplify the flavor of the restaurant industry, spanning fast food to upscale dining, large to small chains and all types of cuisine. You can find the Inaugural Leaders and their qualifying Kids LiveWell menu choices on HealthyDiningFinder.com.
Last week, the NRA and Healthy Dining launched the Kids LiveWell program at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Several participating restaurants showcased samples of their Kids LiveWell choices. Any unexpected offerings? I guess I have to say that what I found “unexpected” is how much my picky 10-year-old daughter enjoyed the Kids LiveWell items. A few of her favorites:
- Chevys Fresh Mex: Chicken soft tacos served with carrots, celery and sweet corn tamalito.
- Denny’s: Spaghetti with marinara and steamed broccoli.
- Joe’s Crab Shack: Snow crab with corn on the cob. I didn’t know she would eat crab, and she loved it!
- Silver Diner: Turkey sliders with strawberries.
How can restaurants join and promote the program?
We are already receiving a lot of interest from restaurants to join the Kids LiveWell program. Any restaurant that wants to participate can call Healthy Dining at (800) 953-3463 or e-mail Erica@HealthyDiningFinder.com. Healthy Dining’s team of registered dietitians will help restaurants identify menu choices that meet Kids LiveWell qualifications. The dietitians can also suggest modifications or strategies to develop new items or modify current items. Participating restaurants identify their qualifying choices with the Kids LiveWell logo and through their websites, social media channels and other marketing efforts.
SmartPulse — our weekly reader poll in Restaurant SmartBrief — tracks feedback from restaurant owners and managers about trends and issues.
Last week’s poll question: Is your restaurant participating in Kids LiveWell or another healthy-dining initiative for children?
80.43% — No, my restaurant is not participating in a healthy-dining program for children.
13.04% — Yes, my restaurant is participating in Kids LiveWell.
6.52% — Yes, my restaurant is participating in another program.
Image credit: mammamaart via iStockphoto
What are you or would you offer as a Kids LiveWell menu item? Share it with us on Twitter, or leave a comment.