As part of first lady Michelle Obama’s fight against childhood obesity, 1% milk will be the default beverage served with kids menu items at Darden Restaurants.
Obama joined Darden Restaurants -- the world’s largest full-service restaurant company -- and Partnership for a Healthier America Sept. 15 to announce what she called a “breakthrough” health and wellness commitment in the restaurant industry, according to a White House news release.
Provided automatically if no alternate beverage is requested, 1% milk also will be prominently promoted on the menu and made available with free refills, according to the release.
Darden’s changes to kids menus will begin right away and be fully implemented by next July, the White House news release said.
Darden’s brands include Red Lobster, Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse and Bahama Breeze. The firm operates 1,900 restaurants in 49 states, serving more than 400 million meals per year, the release said.
Last September, the first lady spoke to the National Restaurant Association and encouraged foodservice operators to re-evaluate their menu offerings aimed at children.
In addition to its commitment on the kids’ menu, Darden said it will strive to reduce its calorie and sodium content in food. All Darden restaurants will work toward a 10% reduction in calories and sodium over the next five years and a 20% reduction in calories and sodium over 10 years.
“I’m here today because this is a breakthrough moment in the restaurant industry,” Obama said in the release. “Darden is working to make the healthy choice the easy choice, and they’re making it the delicious and fun choice too. I’m confident that if companies like Darden continue to be creative and innovative and keep our kids’ best interests at heart then we will solve the challenge of childhood obesity and give all our kids the healthy futures they deserve.”