First Lady Michelle Obama today announced a “breakthrough moment for the restaurant industry.” Darden Restaurants, parent company of Red Lobster and Olive Garden, will add more healthy, nutritious menu choices for both children and adults to help fight obesity in America.
“They’re not just revamping their kids’ menus to give kids better food and parents more choices and more control, they’re committing to make changes across the entire menu at every single one of their restaurants,” said Mrs. Obama. “…I’m confident that if companies like Darden continue to be creative and innovative and have 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.”
The kids menu changes at some restaurants will include fruits or vegetables as sides, one-percent milk as the default beverage, no displayed soda options and entrees that are 600 calories or less. These adjustments are expected to be fully implemented by next July.
Last year, Americans spent $433 million eating away from home. Since Darden is the world’s largest full-service restaurant company (1,900 stores in 49 states), several of those outside meals were likely consumed at a Darden brand. It also owns the Capital Grille, Longhorn Steakhouse and Bahama Breeze, and all have pledged to reduce their caloric and sodium footprint by 20 percent in ten years.
The company will provide annual progress reports to the Partnership for a Healthier America — complementing Mrs. Obama’s anti-childhood obesity initiative, “Let’s Move!”