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National Restaurant Association's Kids LiveWell Program Reaches 42,000 Locations Nationwide

WASHINGTON, March 6, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In celebration of National Nutrition Month, the National Restaurant Association announced today that its first-of-its-kind Kids LiveWell initiative has grown to 42,000 restaurant locations nationwide. The voluntary program, which provides a growing selection of healthful children's menu choices in every state, now counts more than 145 restaurant brands as participants, including new national companies Cosi, Jamba Juice and Rainforest Cafe, as well as Ovation Brands' Country Buffet, HomeTown Buffet and Old Country Buffet, among other regional chains and independent restaurants.

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"As healthful kids' meals are a top trend for restaurant menus, we are excited to see that the Kids LiveWell program continues to grow across the country," said Dawn Sweeney, President and CEO of the National Restaurant Association. "The restaurant industry is passionate about expanding the variety of nutritious options available for children when dining out, and chefs have shown their ingenuity in creating healthful meals that their youngest patrons will enjoy."

"We are thrilled to see the steady growth of families visiting the Kids LiveWell platform on HealthyDiningFinder.com to find the participating restaurants and qualifying menu choices," said Anita Jones-Mueller, President of Healthy Dining. "The Kids LiveWell options emphasize healthful ingredients such as lean protein, fruits and vegetables and whole grains – the ingredients that kids need lots of to be at their best. The site also features more than 4,000 Healthy Dining choices for parents – so they, too, can be at their best while serving as positive role models for their children."

Building on the initiative's positive momentum, the National Restaurant Association has also partnered with national foodservice companies to expand the reach of the Kids LiveWell program, including the Kellogg Company, Kraft Foods, McCormick For Chefs, PepsiCo and Sysco.

To highlight the restaurant industry's continuing positive efforts in nutrition, the National Restaurant Association created the Kids LiveWell Recipe Challenge along with founding partner McCormick For Chefs and sponsor Healthy Dining. The initiative is aimed at showcasing restaurant and foodservice companies' culinary ingenuity of creating healthful options for children. The Challenge takes an "industry tested, kid approved" approach with a panel of food and nutrition professionals selecting finalists and elementary school students choosing the winners in four categories.

The children's tasting event and the announcement of the Kids LiveWell Recipe Challenge winners will take place Saturday, April 5 at the McCormick World of Flavors store in Baltimore, Md.

To join Kids LiveWell, restaurants agree to offer and promote a selection of qualifying menu items based on leading health organizations' scientific recommendations, including the 2010 USDA Dietary Guidelines. The initiative focuses on increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, whole grains and low-fat dairy, and limiting total calories, unhealthy fats, sugar and sodium.

Participating restaurants and their qualifying items can be found on HealthyDiningFinder.com, and also via a free Kids LiveWell App.

The National Restaurant Association launched the groundbreaking initiative in July 2011 in collaboration with partner Healthy Dining and 19 inaugural brand leaders representing 15,000 locations.

Founded in 1919, the National Restaurant Association is the leading business association for the restaurant industry, which comprises 990,000 restaurant and foodservice outlets and a workforce of more than 13.5 million employees. We represent the industry in Washington, D.C., and advocate on its behalf. We operate the industry's largest trade show (NRA Show May 17-20, 2014, in Chicago); leading food safety training and certification program (ServSafe); unique career-building high school program (the NRAEF's ProStart); as well as the Kids LiveWell program promoting healthful kids' menu options. For more information, visit www.restaurant.org and find us on Twitter @WeRRestaurants, Facebook and YouTube.

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SOURCE National Restaurant Association

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