The National Restaurant Association (NRA) recently rolled out their Kids LiveWell program. The program is designed to be mutually beneficial to kids' health and restaurants' bottom lines by designating certain kids' menu items as healthy choices. The idea is a win-win-win: Kids get a healthy meal that helps prevent obesity, parents get some help in deciding what to order for their kids, and restaurants get marketing and promotional help and subsequently more business.
A no-brainer for parents
Despite their best intentions, when adults eat out, they tend to go for the fatty, high-calorie foods. Thus "health food" perceived as skimpy on the portion size can be tough sells. When parents order for their children, on the other hand, they are looking for the healthiest option for them. Many restaurants only offer menu items that are less than healthy for children. French fries and deep-fried chicken fingers are two examples that come to mind. Restaurants that cater to parents' desires to feed their children a healthy and nutritious meal stand to profit. A program like Kids LiveWell provides some welcome support in this endeavor.
How to join
Any restaurant can participate in the Kids LiveWell program provided they add kids' menu items that can meet the nutritional criteria. You can find out more on the NRA website, but examples include offering an entree that is made up of two or more food groups, contains fewer than 600 calories and contains fewer than .5 grams of trans fat. Side items can qualify by having fewer than 200 calories.
What's in it for restaurants?
Besides the satisfaction of knowing that the kids they are serving will be getting nutritious meals that are good for them, participating restaurants will receive promotional support and marketing materials. They can promote that their meals meet the new NRA standard. They will also benefit from the NRA's widespread promotion of the program.
A sign of the times
With obesity, especially childhood obesity, on the rise, lots of people are concerned about the food choices we are offering our children and making for ourselves. The Kids LiveWell program dovetails nicely with the upcoming implementation of the new menu labeling law, in its transparency and positive promotion of healthy eating. This program will help parents and restaurants give kids the healthy head start they need to make good eating choices for the rest of their lives.
Want to find out where your kids' menu offerings stand in terms of health? Many dieticians as well as nutritional service partner companies can help. For deeper information MenuTrinfo can also help.
Image used under Creative Commons from Pink Poppy Photography.
Betsy Craig brings 20 years of food service industry experience to MenuTrinfo, LLC a menu nutritional labeling Company. Her commitment to the betterment of the food industry and her desire to affect the dining public are the driving forces behind her new company Kitchens with Confidence, LLC.