Emerging Concepts | February 2013 | By Daniel P. Smith

The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis

Indianapolis, Indiana

Thanks to the Kids LiveWell program, children can eat healthy while visiting the
Thanks to the Kids LiveWell program, children can eat healthy while visiting the museum. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
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At the world’s largest children’s museum, healthy eating is on display.

Spurred by the National Restaurant Association and Healthy Dining—an organization dedicated to helping people maintain healthier lifestyles—The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis became the globe’s first museum to embrace the Kids LiveWell initiative when it debuted a revised, nutritionally tuned menu last summer.

The museum’s traditional fast-food fare has been replaced by healthier, yet still kid-friendly, options, such as grilled chicken dippers and whole-wheat pasta.

Museum officials say joining the Kids LiveWell campaign extends the museum’s educational mission and will help children build strong nutritional habits.

Amy Carrigan, district manager at Sodexo Leisure, the museum’s dining-services partner, discusses the institution’s pioneering transition to a Kids LiveWell menu, as well as what it means for the museum’s guests and other cultural destinations.

How did the move to a Kids LiveWell menu come up?

Wanting our trial run to be at the largest and best, we approached The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis last May and pitched this as something we wanted to launch in the North American market. They were receptive to the plan and saw this as an opportunity to enhance their mission and provide excellent learning opportunities.

We’re both excited to lead the way here as the first museum in the Kids LiveWell program.

What motivated this pursuit?

When we rolled this out last summer, there were about 2,300 restaurants on board with the Kids LiveWell initiative, but no foodservice providers, museums, or cultural destinations participating. At Sodexo, we saw this as an opportunity to be first to market, but also as an avenue to continue developing fresh and innovative menu options that increase choices for healthy and nutritional living.

What costs and challenges did you encounter?

There weren’t a whole lot of costs involved, and the biggest challenge was making sure the menu items met the dietary requirements. It took a little more time than we anticipated getting information from the dieticians and earning the Kids LiveWell stamp of approval.

How have museum visitors responded?

The menu’s been embraced. People are happy we have these balanced and nutritious offerings available, but that we’ve also respected affordability and what children like to eat.

Will Sodexo work to bring a Kids LiveWell menu to other cultural destinations?

Since unveiling the new menu at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, we’ve rolled out something similar at the Center of Science and Industry’s Atomic Cafe in Columbus, Ohio. As a company, we’re looking to create this as a national program, and we’re going to continue taking steps in that direction.