June 23, 2022

Association to participate in White House nutrition conference

Leads of Association’s award-winning, updated child nutrition program to represent industry at fall event.

Kids LiveWell helps the industry promote flavorful, better-for-you, meal options to restaurants' youngest guests and their parents.

The National Restaurant Association will share information on the industry’s efforts to alleviate hunger and promote better-for-you kids meals during September’s White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health. The goal is to further educate the Biden Administration on the industry’s ongoing commitment to provide healthy meals to children when they dine out at restaurants around the country.

The Association’s nutrition and wellness thought leaders will share policy ideas that help reduce hunger, boost nutrition, and demonstrate the industry’s proactive approach to solutions, said Jeff Clark, the program director for Kids LiveWell.

The lowdown on Kids LiveWell 2.0

Kids LiveWell originally debuted in 2011, and was updated and reintroduced last year to incorporate the latest nutrition guidelines. 

The Association has re-engineered the program to help participants promote flavorful, better-for-you, meal options that meet the industry’s needs and those of its youngest guests and their parents. 

New KLW menu options are required to meet thresholds for added sugar, sodium, fat, and calories established by the latest nutrition science, including the Department of Agriculture’s and Health and Human Services’ 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which updates every five years. 

Member companies are required to offer a minimum of two meals and two side dishes rigorously analyzed by registered dietitians, and must also commit to a default beverage policy that puts water, milk, and juice first, with other beverages available on request.

“We're focused on ensuring that lean proteins, healthy fruits, and vegetables are liberally represented, and on reducing added sugars, calories, and sodium,” Clark said. The goal is to be able to offer parents more options for kids when they’re dining away from home.” 

Meeting plan: Showing proactive stance on nutrition

Clark said participating in the White House conference would help everyone, including members of the Biden Administration and other government officials, to learn more about the industry’s increasingly proactive stance on child nutrition.

“It's important for us to talk about the voluntary guidelines we’ve put in place,” he said, “and explain to them that when the government decides to mandate policies, those policies don’t always fit every environment, despite good intentions and common goals from all parties. We want to show them that restaurants can serve better choices that also fit different business models. That would be more successful than having to adhere to forced mandates that might not be as good a fit.”

Be a part of our listening sessions

To that end, the Association is holding two “listening” sessions that will allow operators to share their experiences around alleviating hunger, improving access to nutritious food, and discussing innovative policies and projects that others can use to expand exposure to healthful foods nationwide. Attendees, limited to members of the National Restaurant Association and State Restaurant Association partners, must register for the sessions—to be held June 30 at 1 p.m. ET, and July 1 at 11 a.m. ET.

Clark also said KLW is looking to increase its number of participating brand locations from 12,400 to 50,000 by the end of the year. An increase of that magnitude, he said, would not only impact communities for better, but improve future policymaking efforts, too.

To learn more about the program and how to become a member, contact Kids LiveWell or Food Directions, the Association’s professional dietitian consultant.