By Derrek J. Hull, Blogger-in-Chief
It's been an exciting first year for the National Restaurant Association's groundbreaking Kids LiveWell initiative, which has grown to include 104 restaurant brands with more than 29,000 locations nationwide.
“Kids LiveWell continues to build momentum and expand into new venues in every state across the country,” said Dawn Sweeney, President and CEO of the National Restaurant Association. “The industry’s positive response to customer demand is exciting to watch, and we look forward to what the next year will bring.”
The program recently welcomed added its first museum, the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis to its ranks, as well as Arby’s Restaurants and Qdoba Mexican Grill.
To qualify for Kids LiveWell, restaurants must offer and promote a selection of items that meet qualifying nutrition criteria based on leading health organization's scientific recommendations, including the 2010 USDA Dietary Guidelines.
The NRA developed Kids LiveWell in collaboration with Healthy Dining, whose team of registered dietitians works with restaurants to identify and validate the qualifying menu choices, which focus on fruits and vegetables, lean protein, whole grains and low-fat dairy. Participating restaurants and their qualifying items can be found on HealthyDiningFinder.com.
“Our mission to provide extraordinary learning experiences extends throughout the museum, including the food choices served to children and families,” said Brian Statz, Vice President of Operations and General Counsel for The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. “Through hard work with Sodexo and our collaboration with the National Restaurant Association to bring this program to the museum, we are proud to lead the way as the first museum to join Kids LiveWell. This designation is a wonderful extension of our educational mission by helping families identify healthful menu options and further educate children about good nutritional habits.”
In May, the NRA launched a free Kids LiveWell App to connect parents to restaurants offering healthful children’s menu items under the Kids LiveWell program. The app is geo-coded so that users will be able to find restaurants nearest to them with Kids LiveWell menu items. The free app is available in the Android Market and iTunes app store.