Posts Tagged ‘healthy food’

New School Lunch Law Signed Toward the End of 2010

January 27, 2011

Mark 2010 down as being a landmark year for a number of important issues. The President signed into law a new tax cut, making an historic compromise with the Republicans in Congress. He also managed to sign the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell this past year and he signed a new law which will change the way school lunches are prepared.

The Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010 was signed by the President toward the end of the year and is intended to re-write the rules for school lunches. The idea is to add in more whole fruits and vegetables in an attempt to combat obesity in children.

A Harbinger for Restaurateurs

The legislation, which was sponsored by Senator Blance Lincoln, Democrat of Arkansas also re-authorized certain federal food nutrition programs which had been in place since 1973. However, even more importantly, the fact that kid’s school lunches are supposed to start becoming healthier means that we as restaurateurs need to change as well. It’s time for us to take a cue from the small chains that have begun trying to offer healthier kids’ menus and to do it ourselves.

Yes, that Issue Again

We’ve talked about this before, however the fact is that even though we ultimately want to make money, we also need to consider the health of our youngest customers. Parents are concerned and the obesity epidemic is one that threatens to engulf the restaurant industry if something isn’t done about getting our kids onto healthier eating choices.

Taking a Page from the First Lady and Smaller Chains

We’ve written in this space about some restaurants that have begun to make the change and about how Michelle Obama has made this her signature initiative. We believe it’s an issue that’s not going to go away and that we as an industry need to learn from the examples set both by the President’s wife and by some of the smaller chains that have decided to try adopting healthy food choices for kids.

Getting Kids to Make Healthier Food Choices Isn’t Easy

November 7, 2010

Most of us see lots of kids come into our establishments to eat with their parents. It’s even possible that your particular establishment caters specifically to kids if you run a neighborhood pizza shop or burger joint.

However, there are also times when those of us running a more upscale restaurant grit our teeth and wonder how we can keep our other guests happy while not alienating families who may have children who just don’t want to eat a healthy meal.

Worried About the “Kid Conflict”?  You’re Not Alone.

If you’ve ever faced that problem, you’ll be glad to know you’re not alone. In fact, the USDA is so concerned about trying to get kids to eat healthy that they recently announced a new $2 million dollar campaign to try to change kids’ attitudes about school lunches.

The idea is to try and get kids to want to eat a healthy diet rather than the junk food that is often served in school cafeterias and on many of our own kids’ menus.

An Organization for Healthier Kids

The idea is to create a brand think tank called the Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs. The new organization will be based at Cornell University in New York State and will fund a number of studies in other states as well. The question they’ll be asking is: How can we get kids to want to eat healthier foods?

This is a question that we as restaurateurs, at least in more upscale restaurants need to be asking ourselves as well. Depending on the kind of place you run, you may have a tough time when the 10 year old comes in with her parents and they insist that she eat the foie gras.

How to Get Kids to Eat Healthily

One suggestion, which we frankly wonder about since it’s heavy handed and not likely to succeed (not to mention it doesn’t help us with ideas in our own industry) is to issue meal cards that can only be used to purchase healthy foods.

What are some ways that you use to get kids in your restaurant to quiet down and eat with their families? We’d love to hear about it. If you want to read more about the initiative, just visit their web site.

The New Kids’ Menus

September 16, 2010

Kids‘ menus historically have included things like French fries, hamburgers and chicken nuggets – in other words, foods kids love but that aren’t considered the most healthy.  But times are changing.

These days, the focus for children is on preventing the spread of the obesity epidemic that has taken hold in this country. All those fried foods which are high in fat and cholesterol, which we thought were acceptable things for kids to eat are no longer acceptable, even for the kids. Here’s how to keep up with the changing times:

Offer Kid-Friendly Food Prepared in a Healthy Way

The first thing you should do when working on a new kids menu is to remember that kids are still kids–they’re not likely to get excited about eating a nice big green salad. Finger friendly food is still very important for them.  It’s a good idea to include items kids can eat with their bare hands.

However, within that variety, there are plenty of choices. Consider baked foods instead of fried foods, which tend to be much higher in fat and cholesterol. Roasted potato wedges for example can still be finger friendly kids’ foods, as long as they aren’t too hot.

McDonalds has tried out apple dippers as an option for desert and some variation of that may be perfect for kids menus as well.

Offer a Few Choices for Special Needs

If you really want to make your menu kid friendly while at the same time attracting health conscious parents, consider offering alternatives for special needs kids.

Diabetes, peanut allergies and celiac disease are all growing concerns amongst children. Offer these options and you’ll make life easier for (and attract more) parents who constantly have to watch what their children eat.