Introduction to the Kids LiveWell Program

The National Restaurant Association has long been an ally of the restaurant industry, and their website hosts a huge number of resources for those in the business. One such area we wanted to shed light on is the Kids LiveWell program. What’s it all about, and would it be a good fit for your restaurant? Let’s learn! 

What is the Kids LiveWell Program?

We have written about the importance of making your restaurant a great place for families. But once you’ve drawn them in, are you sure your menu is up-to-snuff? The typical kids’ menu at a restaurant features the usual suspects: chicken fingers, grilled cheese, hot dogs, etc. You know, items that don’t hold very much nutritional value but are priceless in their convenience (which is a huge perk if you’re a parent). That’s where the Kids LiveWell (KLW) program aims to step in and help. According to a white paper posted to the NRA’s website, “the National Restaurant Association launched the Kids LiveWell (KLW) program to help parents and children select better for you menu options when dining out. Restaurants that participate in this voluntary program commit to offering healthful meal items for children with a particular focus on increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, and low-fat dairy while limiting unhealthy fats, sugars and sodium.” It’s free to participate in this program, too.

The nutritional criteria laid out in the program were all developed by registered dietitians and public health and consumer advocates. Once accepted into the program, restaurants are provided with an official KLW logo to place next to their menu items that meet these strict requirements. This icon aims to make it easier for parents to identify which menu items are healthier for their kids to consume.

What are the requirements to join?

Head to page 8 of the white paper and you’ll see the food requirements laid out by the program. In order to participate, restaurants are required to offer no less than 2 children’s meals that have less than 550 calories; less than 10 percent of their calories from saturated fat; no trans fats; less than 15 g of added sugars; and less than 700 mg of sodium. The meals must also have a specific serving size from at least 2 of 5 food groups, including fruits, vegetables, dairy, meat (or meat substitute) and whole grains. In addition to this requirement, there are others that need to be met in order to participate in the program. These include nutrition requirements for sides, a “default beverage” policy, third-party validation of your menu’s nutritional information, and “Display or make available on request the nutrition profile of the KLW menu options you offer and promote/identify these better for you menu options, whenever possible, to make it easy for families to choose.”

How do I apply? 

There aren’t many steps involved in applying for certification. The first step is to send an email, put the nutritional data of your menu items into a spreadsheet, make meal tweaks as necessary to meet the requirements laid out, and sign a release form. Restaurants that are accepted also get access to a special media toolkit that contains helpful tips on how to promote your KLW participation to the public.

There’s a lot of positive publicity that can come from participating in a program such as this, especially at a time when families are getting more and more comfortable going out to eat again. Healthy eating habits have to be instilled young—and what better way to encourage those habits than at a fun, family restaurant? For even more in-depth coverage, consider checking out the National Restaurant Association’s on-demand webinar, “Boost Your Restaurant Business with Kids LiveWell.”

There is an ocean of programs and resources out there for restaurant owners, which is why our aim at the Financial Pantry is to be your one-stop-shop for industry trends and news. Not to mention, ARF Financial is the leading financial lending company for hospitality businesses—and there’s a reason for that. Check out our success stories to learn more about what makes ARF Financial your best bet for business success.