The National Restaurant Association (NRA) announced that Sysco Corporation will serve as the distribution partner of the award-winning Kids LiveWell program, an industry-wide initiative launched by the Association to provide parents with a growing selection of healthful children’s menu choices.
“Sysco’s commitment to the Kids LiveWell program and nutrition overall means families will have even greater access to an expanding number of healthful menu options for children,” says Joan McGlockton, vice president of industry affairs and food policy for the NRA. “This is an exciting and significant step in the Kids LiveWell initiative’s short existence and evidence of the entire foodservice industry’s enthusiasm behind healthy living solutions.”
As the program’s distribution partner, Sysco will create innovative recipes to offer to independent restaurant operators nationwide. Chef Neil Doherty, senior director of Culinary Development for Sysco, showcased one of the new recipes at a cooking demonstration at the National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show.
“Sysco is assuming a larger leadership role in the area of healthier eating, especially as it relates to our children,” says Bill Goetz, senior vice president of marketing for Sysco Corporation. “We established a platform to help our customers meet the growing demand for nutritious and ‘good-for-you’ foods and recipes to incorporate into their menu offerings.
“The launch of our Sysco Healthy and Positive Eating, or SHAPE, program presents us with a great opportunity to take a leadership position for foodservice distributors in promoting kids’ health,” he adds. “An exciting part of this is our new alliance with NRA as the distribution partner for the KidsLiveWell program. This will be a true value-add that our marketing associates will bring to our customers, enabling them to readily and easily incorporate pre-approved, nutritionally analyzed recipes into kid-friendly menu offerings.”
As with all Kids LiveWell menu items, Sysco’s recipes will meet nutrition criteria based on leading health organizations’ scientific recommendations, including the USDA Dietary Guidelines. The recipes will be validated by Healthy Dining’s team of registered dietitians.
“The Kids LiveWell program demonstrates to kids and their families that healthy eating can be fun and tasty at the same time. If we teach children how to make healthier food choices, and also equip their favorite restaurants with the tools and resources to serve them accordingly, we are on the right track to making a positive difference,” says Karen Horsley, MS, RD, senior director of nutrition for Sysco.
“I’m on a mission to help kids eat well and get healthy—it’s one of the best and most important things I do as a chef,” says Robert Irvine, celebrity chef and host of Food Network’s top-rated Restaurant: Impossible. “But families are busy and oftentimes convenience takes the place of healthy eating, but it doesn’t have to. You can still eat out, while making smarter, healthier choices. Sysco’s new partnership with NRA’s Kids LiveWell promotes this mission—helping to educate families about good nutrition and eating well, while helping restaurants easily incorporate nutritious, kid-friendly recipes into their menu offerings.”
The Association launched Kids LiveWell in 2011 in collaboration with Healthy Dining to help restaurants highlight their better-for-you menu choices for children. To join the program, restaurants agree to offer and promote a selection of qualifying menu items. The initiative focuses on increasing consumption of fruit and vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, and low-fat dairy, and limiting total calories, unhealthy fats, sugar, and sodium.
The program includes more than 135 restaurant brands representing more than 40,000 locations nationwide. Participating restaurants and their qualifying items can be found on HealthyDiningFinder.com, and also via a free Kids LiveWell App.