It’s Time to Rethink “Kid Food” in America

Huffington Post
Ron Shaich

When my son and daughter were born, my wife and I made their wellbeing our highest priority. We successfully gave them hugs and healthful foods in equal servings. But as our children grew, so did our frustration at our inability to fight against the gimmicky characters and endless toys that beckoned them from cereal boxes, kids’ meals and myriad TV ads. Now, as a parent and a restaurateur, I’m taking action. And I’m urging the food industry to join me.

The time has come to rethink the food we serve our kids – all of it. The ubiquitous chicken nugget and French fry fare on kids’ menus do not make for happy meals and the processed goods on supermarket shelves are no substitute for the fresh fruits and vegetables they too often replace. For proof of the harm we’ve done to our progeny look no further than childhood obesity rates, which have remained at 17 percent for more than a decade, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Certainly, the restaurant industry has played a part in creating this problem, and now we all need to be part of the solution. Since 2014, consumers have spent more money on food in away-from-home establishments than for meals prepared at home. That means restaurants have a direct influence on shaping the future eating habits of our youngest guests. To my mind, it also means we have an increasing responsibility to do right by them.

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