We know that Australians are eating out more and spending a greater percentage of their household income on food and dining out. Food prepared away from home is often poorer in nutritional quality as it is higher in total calories, total fat, and salt, and often served in large portion sizes. Combined with anecdotal evidence suggesting that children’s menus lack the choice and nutritional value of wider menus, this can make it difficult for parents to find healthy options for their children when dining out. This is why the Healthy Kids Menu initiative was created.
In 2015, the Premier of South Australia convened an Executive Taskforce to lead the conversation around supporting restaurants, cafés, hotels and clubs to increase the availability of healthier children’s menus. The Taskforce, now chaired by Ms Katrine Hildyard MP, Assistant Minister to the Premier, includes representatives from the Australian Hotels Association, Restaurant and Catering Association and Clubs SA, as well as health experts from CSIRO, SAHMRI, the Heart Foundation, and Sprout Cooking School and Health Studio.
The Healthy Kids Menu Taskforce Report, including recommendations, was released on Wednesday, 16 December 2015. Recommendations were developed through a co-design process which brought together expertise and practical wisdom from parents, local restaurants, cafés, hotels, clubs and health.
The initiative was piloted by twenty SA venues in 2016 and 2017 and their feedback helped to refine the process and available resources. Following the Pilot Program, the initiative was formally launched on Tuesday, 22 August 2017. If you are a South Australian food venue, you can join the initiative on the Guide for Business page.