The National Restaurant Association’s Kids LiveWell program is celebrating its three-year anniversary this July. Officials say the voluntary program, which provides a growing selection of healthful children’s menu choices, has grown from 19 to 150 participating restaurant brands, representing more than 42,000 locations nationwide. The initiative includes quick-service and table-service concepts among national companies, regional chains and independent restaurants, as well as theme parks, resorts and museums.
“We are excited to celebrate Kids LiveWell’s third anniversary and the extraordinary progress of the program in that short period of time,” says Dawn Sweeney, NRA president and CEO. “Consumers are eager for healthful options and the success of Kids LiveWell has shown that restaurants and foodservice companies are enthusiastic to provide those nutritious choices. We are proud that the Kids LiveWell program is helping families in every state across the country find healthful options when dining out.”
The National Restaurant Association launched the first-of-its-kind initiative in July 2011 in collaboration with partner Healthy Dining and 19 inaugural brand leaders representing 15,000 locations. To further build the initiative’s scope, the National Restaurant Association has partnered with foodservice suppliers including Kellogg’s, Kraft Foods, McCormick for Chefs, PepsiCo and Sysco, to help participating restaurants meet the nutrition criteria of Kids LiveWell meals. The California Milk Advisory Board became the first commodity board sponsor.
“We applaud all of the participating Kids LiveWell restaurants featured on HealthyDiningFinder.com,” says Anita Jones-Mueller, MPH, president of Healthy Dining. “These restaurants are demonstrating dedication and innovation in offering both nutritious and tasty options for America’s children. Our team of registered dietitians is proud to be part of this growing initiative helping families find healthy menu options when dining out.”
To join Kids LiveWell, restaurants agree to offer and promote a selection of qualifying menu items based on leading health organizations’ scientific recommendations, including the 2010 USDA Dietary Guidelines. The initiative focuses on increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, whole grains and low-fat dairy, and limiting total calories, unhealthy fats, sugar and sodium.
Healthy Dining’s team of registered dietitians works with restaurants to identify and validate menu choices that meet the program’s criteria. Participating restaurants and their qualifying items can be found on HealthyDiningFinder.com, and also via a free Kids LiveWell app.