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National Restaurant Association - NRA, Sysco Corp. team up to offer more healthful options for kids

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NRA, Sysco Corp. team up to offer more healthful options for kids

The National Restaurant Association has partnered with foodservice distributor Sysco Corp. to expand the reach of its Kids LiveWell initiative, said Joan McGlockton, the NRA’s vice president of industry affairs and food policy.

“Sysco’s commitment to the Kids LiveWell program and nutrition overall means families will have even greater access to a growing number of healthful menu options for children,” McGlockton said. “This is an exciting and significant step in the Kids LiveWell initiative’s relatively short existence and evidence of the entire restaurant and foodservice industry’s enthusiasm behind healthy living solutions.”

As part of the agreement, Sysco will create numerous recipes that are not only flavorful, but most importantly meet the Kids LiveWell nutrition criteria. The recipes, which will be based on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2010 Dietary Guidelines, will be available to independent restaurant operators around the country.

“This will be a true value-add that [we] will bring to our customers,” said Bill Goetz, Sysco’s senior vice president of marketing. “It will enable them to readily and easily incorporate pre-approved, nutritionally analyzed recipes into kid-friendly menu offerings.”

Before the recipes are rolled out nationally, they will all be tested and validated by Healthy Dining, the San Diego-based culinary nutrition consultant that partnered with the NRA to develop the Kids LiveWell program in 2011.

Scott DeFife, the NRA’s vice president of government affairs and policy, said the Association is pleased with the performance of the Kids LiveWell initiative, noting that over the course of two years, the program has surfaced in more than 40,000 restaurant locations and close to 300 meals are being offered throughout the country.
“While we have many national brands and some independent operators [participating in the program], what we’re very excited about our new distribution partnership with Sysco Corp.,” he said. “Sysco has been working to develop recipes that they will distribute to independent operators. By doing this, we will see the program expanding by hundreds and hundreds over the next year.”

Kids LiveWell was created to help parents and children find more healthful menu choices when they dine out in restaurants. Today, nearly two years after its inception, Kids LiveWell, which focuses on increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, whole grains and low-fat dairy, while limiting total calories, unhealthful fats, sugar and sodium, now has more than 135 restaurant brand participants.

“The Kids LiveWell program demonstrates to kids and their families that healthy eating can be fun and tasty at the same time,” said Karen Horsley, MS, RD, senior director of nutrition for Sysco. “If we teach children how to make healthier food choices and also equip their favorite restaurants with the tools and resources to serve them accordingly, we are on the right track to making a positive difference.”

In addition to developing the new recipes, chef Neil Doherty, Sysco’s senior director of culinary development, prepared Piggy Fiesta, one of the new recipes, at a May 20 culinary demonstration at the NRA Show. The dish consists of roast pork, brown rice, spices and is topped with salsa.

“We’re doing right for our kids, we’re teaching them to eat healthy and, as restaurateurs, we’ll make a bit of money, too,” Doherty said. “I think it’s a win-win across the board. Kids LiveWell is a great initiative, long overdue, and we’re very excited about it.”

Celebrity chef and Sysco “ambassador” Robert Irvine, host of the Food Network’s Restaurant Impossible TV show, said helping kids eat well and healthfully is one of the best and most important things a chef can do.

“Families are busy and, oftentimes, convenience takes the place of healthful eating, but it doesn’t have to,” he said. “You can still eat out, while making smarter, healthier choices. Sysco’s new partnership with the NRA’s KidsLiveWell initiative promotes this mission: helping to educate families about good nutrition and eating well, while helping restaurants easily incorporate nutritious, kid-friendly recipes into their menu offerings.”

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