As part of an ongoing push to provide guests with more healthful choices, family-dining chain Bob Evans Farms has joined the National Restaurant Association's Kids LiveWell nutritional initiative.
The 565-unit, Columbus, Ohio-based chain said participating in the Kids LiveWell program will help parents quickly identify healthful menu items for children and encourage increased consumption of foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and low-fat dairy items. The company added that starting Jan. 3, all of its stores began following the nutritional guidelines set by the Kids LiveWell program and its partner, San Diego-based consultant Healthy Dining Inc.
"Historically, one of the things we've always been known for is having a great kids' menu," said Greg West, Bob Evans' vice president of product innovation, "and we probably had healthful menus before being healthful was cool, so our Kids LiveWell partnership is a natural fit within our full range of commitments to help both our customers and employees be their best."
According to West, the chain has developed five entrees, three side dishes and two beverages that fit the Kids Live Well program's criteria. The entrees are: sunny scrambles with egg lites, a bacon strip, wheat toast and 100-percent orange juice; dipping-sauce-free grilled chicken strips with a dressing-free side salad and 100-percent orange juice; macaroni and cheese with steamed broccoli and 100-percent orange juice; macaroni and cheese with steamed broccoli and 100-percent apple juice; and chicken and noodles with steamed broccoli and 100-percent orange juice. Approved side dishes include: fresh, steamed broccoli, a plain baked potato, and a fresh fruit dish.
West noted that the company is marketing the items by highlighting them on the menu with the Kids LiveWell logo and apple icon next to them, as well as posting a decal on the inside door of every store that advertises Bob Evans' wellness focus. They also will be featured on the chain's flyers and other consumer-based communications paraphernalia.
In addition to its participation in the Kids LiveWell initiative, West said Bob Evans has also introduced a new, adult-themed, three-course meal with less than 450 calories and a gluten-free menu for those customers who suffer from certain food allergies.
"We're transforming our brand inside and out," chairman and CEO Steve Davis said in a prepared statement. "Our guests are telling us how much they enjoy ... and appreciate our new, healthful menu choices."
Further, the chain also implemented a tobacco-free workplace for its employees at all of its restaurants, food production plants, transportation centers and other corporate facilities.
"Simply put, it's the right thing to do for our shareholders, guests, consumers and team members," Davis said.
Pictured, top right: sunny scrambles with egg lites, a bacon strip and wheat toast