Kids LiveWell hype and a farm bill update - The Packer

Kids LiveWell hype and a farm bill update

05/10/2012 03:26:00 PM
Tom Karst

National Editor Tom KarstApplesauce or seasoned fries?

If you are "Kids LiveWell"  type of family, you might take the apple sauce. But I have my doubts have often this choice is actually made and how badly restaurants actually want families  to make the healthy choice.

The National Restaurant Association's Kids LiveWell initiative is laudable in the sense it has enlisted a growing roster of restaurants to offer healthy menu options for kids, including dishes with fruits and vegetables.

But nowhere in all the hype about Kids LiveWell does it talk about the marketing money spent on these healthy options, or the success of the Kids LiveWell menu items offered so far.

I have to wonder if these menu options are simply "throw-ins" with little marketing push behind them. Go here to find a list of participating restaurants and their Kids LiveWell menu options.

As pointed out by nutrition consultant Tracy Fox, the Kids LiveWell initiative would have even more clout if it documented year to year progress on the "uptake" or demand for these healthy menu options.


Reviewing progress on the farm bill, we hear reports that the House Agriculture is expected to begin mark up of of the bill fairly soon. This talk follows the subcommittee hearing on horticulture and nutrition earlier in the week.

But all is not sweetness and light; Democrats are clearly troubled about the process and steep budget cuts to nutrition programs that have been proposed.

Meanwhile, on the Senate side, Ben Becker of Sen. Stabenow's office passes along this web link that summarizes the farm bill as it emerged from the Senate Agriculture Committee.

Critics say the Senate farm bill is "empty spending," particularly federal subsidies on revenue-based crop insurance for program crops. Such debates have little to do with the produce industry, but do illustrate lingering public skepticism about federal farm policy.

One Washington lobbyist said the Microbiological Data Program is zeroed out  in the recently approved fiscal year 2013 agriculture appropriations budget recently passed by the  Senate Appropriations Committee. Haven't seen that in the detail of the bill yet, but elimination of the MDP program in fiscal year 2013 appropriations would be a quietly celebrated win for the industry.



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Jennifer Bilbro    
Charleston, SC  |  May, 11, 2012 at 01:40 PM

Tom, Since the Kids LiveWell program was only launched in July 2011, it will take some time to adequately measure whether these healthful options are actually being chosen when families dine out. At this point, however, it is all about choice. The choice to decide between grilled chicken nuggets & fried chicken nuggets … between fresh fruit & French fries. As Americans continue to battle obesity, it’s my responsibility as a parent to educate my children about healthy choices (both in the home and at restaurants), so they make healthy choices as adults. When I dine out, I seek restaurants that offer healthy choices for adults AND kids. If a restaurant chooses not to offer a healthy choice, they are shutting the door on a potential customer. These choices are essential to changing the way we dine out, and the Kids LiveWell program is the first step in an attempt to monitor and promote these healthful options. If the choice is not available, then parents don’t have the option of providing a healthy choice for their kids. I commend the efforts of these restaurants that are making small changes on their menu and look forward to helping educate families on making healthier choices when they dine out. “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” - Mahatma Gandhi Thank you, Jennifer Bilbro

Tom K    
Lenexa KS  |  May, 11, 2012 at 03:33 PM

Jennifer, Good thoughts and I agree that parents play a key role. But I do think the restaurant industry needs to provide some measurable data so we can better judge if this "healthy eating' trend is as substantial as it seems to be or just smoke and mirrors.

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