Program Expands to Over 41,000 Restaurant Locations Nationwide.
Celebrating its two-year anniversary this week, the National Restaurant Association's (NRA) Kids LiveWell initiative has grown to more than 41,000 restaurant locations nationwide. The voluntary program, which provides parents with a growing selection of healthful children's menu choices in every state, now counts more than 140 restaurant brands as participants, including new national companies to the program: Wendy's, Red Robin, Dairy Queen, Moe's Southwest Grill and Big Boy, among other regional chains and independent restaurants.
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.
Building on the initiative's positive momentum, the NRA has expanded the program by recruiting foodservice suppliers, including Kraft Foods, Kellogg's and PepsiCo, which offer qualifying products that help create healthful Kids LiveWell meals. Earlier this year, the NRA announced that national distributor Sysco would begin offering more than 25 KidsLiveWell meals to restaurants across the country.
In addition, the Association held the inaugural Kids Recipe Challenge this spring. Created with founding partner McCormick For Chefs, the Kids Recipe Challenge recognizes delicious, healthful items that meet Kids LiveWell guidelines from children's menus at restaurants and foodservice establishments nationwide. Winners were recognized at the annual National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show in Chicago in May.
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.