The idea sprung with the restaurant operators’ realization of the significant role they play in encouraging and inspiring children to eat more nourishing food when they dine out. Through this initiative, over 15,000 restaurants across America have committed to offer more healthful menu items specially designed for the younger generation, hoping to provide parents and children with healthy choices when they are dining out. It also wishes to empower parents to make informed decisions in choosing their kids’ food in restaurants by making sure that the menus they offer have the nutrients necessary for the children to live a healthy lifestyle. Restaurant chefs in their smart chef coats are now preparing menus that ensure the young generation’s increased consumption of vegetables and fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy and lean protein, limiting usage of unhealthy sugars, fats and sodium.
Nineteen restaurants joined the association in spearheading Kids LiveWell – Bonefish Grill, Au Bon Pain, Burgerville, Burger King, Chevys Fresh Mex, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Corner Bakery Café, Chili’s Grill and Bar, Denny’s, Cracker Barrel, Friendly’s, El Pollo Loco, Joe’s Crab Shack, IHOP, Silver Diner, Outback Steakhouse, T-Bones Great American Eatery, Silver Diner and ZPizza.
“The Kids LiveWell program looks forward to having a healthier generation, and with that, over 15,000 restaurant locations are joining us in this endeavor,” said Dawn Sweeney, National Restaurant Association President and CEO. The association is looking forward to announce more restaurants who would volunteer to join the program in the coming months. Participating establishments are also encouraged to add the Kids LiveWell icon to show qualifying items in their menus.
In joining the Kids LiveWell campaign, restaurants agree to promote and offer menu options that adhere to stringent nutritional criteria drafted by the organizers’ team of registered dietitians. Parents are assured that when they choose a Kids LiveWell full meal (including entrée, siding and beverage), the meal has not more than 600 calories, not more than 35% of calories from total fat, not more than 10% of calories from saturated fat, less than 0.5 grams trans fat, not more than 35% of calories from total sugars, not more than 770 mg of sodium, and has two or more of the basic food groups – fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and lower fat dairy.
IHOP, being one of the inaugural leaders, has already carried out its commitment to the program by announcing that they are re-introducing their popular “Kids Eat Free” this August. The promotion allows families with kids under 12 years old to avail of a free kid’s meal from their Just For Kids menu by purchasing one adult entrée. Each of the choices in their Just For Kids is guaranteed to be simple and fit and under 600 calories, adhering to the guidelines imposed by Kids LiveWell.
Burger King professes that their existing BK Kids Meals – Muffin Sandwich, Chicken Tenders Meal and Hamburger Meal – can already be offered as a Kids LiveWell menu. Chilli’s, on the other hand, says that their excellent chefs in chef coats have long been abiding to this sort of program, having had their Guiltless Grill options since way back, their menu that are “low in fat and calories but high in fiber.”
With this new health drive, parents can relax even when their kids are not dining in their own kitchen. Pretty soon, almost all American restaurants would have nutritious food to offer to their children, just like home.