The National Restaurant Association’s (NRA) groundbreaking Kids LiveWell initiative is marking its first anniversary this week, as the first-of-its-kind voluntary industry program reaches more than 100 participating restaurant brands committed to providing families with a growing selection of healthful children’s menu choices when dining out.
As evidence of the initiative’s increasing popularity since launching last July with 19 inaugural restaurant brand leaders, the National Restaurant Association announced today that Kids LiveWell has added its first museum, the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, to its ranks, as well as Arby’s Restaurants with more than 3,500 locations and Qdoba Mexican Grill with more than 600 locations.
Kids LiveWell now includes 104 brands representing more than 29,000 locations nationwide.
“Kids LiveWell continues to build momentum and expand into new venues in every state across the country,” says Dawn Sweeney, president and CEO of the National Restaurant Association. “We are so pleased to welcome new participants Arby’s, Qdoba Mexican Grill and the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, and commend them for their commitment to children’s nutrition and well-being. The industry’s positive response to customer demand is exciting to watch, and we look forward to what the next year will bring.”
To join Kids LiveWell, restaurants agree to offer and promote a selection of items that meet qualifying nutrition criteria based on leading health organizations’ scientific recommendations, including the 2010 USDA Dietary Guidelines.
“Our mission to provide extraordinary learning experiences extends throughout the museum, including the food choices served to children and families,” says 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.”
“We are impressed with the work that Kids LiveWell has done in the last year to promote healthful menu choices for children,” says Karen Guido, vice president of Marketing at Qdoba. “At Qdoba, we strive to provide more nutritious options for our young guests and are proud to join the initiative and bring our wide variety of healthier choices to this growing table.”
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.
“What an amazing year it has been for Kids LiveWell. We are gratified by the success of the program and applaud the participating restaurants’ commitment and their chefs’ innovations in developing creative menu options that appeal to the youngest diners’ taste buds, while maintaining sound nutrition,” says Anita Jones-Mueller, MPH, president and founder of Healthy Dining. “Now families of all ages, from grandparents to parents to teens to toddlers, have even more choices to choose from on HealthyDiningFinder.com.”
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.