Thank you, Pittsburgh, for giving residents and visitors safer streets for walking, biking, and increased physical activity!
Airport food doesn’t exactly have the reputation for being the healthiest fare, but travelers visiting Chicago Midway International Airport will soon be able to purchase healthier meals for their children.
PreventObesity.net Leader and health educator Diane Schmidt passes along the news that her grassroots initiative, Healthy Fare for Kids, is working alongside the airport and Premier Restaurant Group to offer certified healthy dishes for kids at 16 airport dining locations. The Healthy Fare for Kids logo will adorn the nutritious meals, allowing parents to pick out dishes that they know are good for their young travelers.
It is the first airport in the nation to have such a program, according to Schmidt.
Schmidt, who has a background in public health and marketing and went to culinary school, launched Healthy Fare for Kids after becoming fed up with the unhealthy options on kids’ menus. Working alongside James Beard Foundation award-winning chef Sarah Stegner, Schmidt created simple nutritional guidelines for restaurants to follow when crafting meals for children.
She then traveled to restaurants in her hometown of Chicago, asking them to offer at least one meal that follows those nutritional guidelines on their menus. Those restaurants that do can put the Healthy Fare for Kids logo on the menu.
“I always wondered why the worst food in restaurants ended up on the kids menu,” Schmidt recalled at a press event to unveil the program at Midway. “Like every parent and every mom, I wanted to raise a healthy kid. But how do parents balance feeding their kids healthy while constantly saying no to very appealing but unhealthy foods that are all around us?”
Schmidt found Chicago’s restaurant community to be largely receptive to her efforts. She recalled in a recent interview with the Inside Track that dozens of restaurants signed onto the initiative within just a few months. Some restaurants went beyond just offering one healthy children’s meal by re-launching their entire kids’ menus to be more nutritious.
Midway joins those restaurants and other Chicago locations, such as the Shedd Aquarium, to offer healthier kids’ meals. Initially, the healthy option at Midway will consist of antibiotic-free turkey on whole wheat bread, grapes and an organic milk box. The meal will be available at coolers located in several airport restaurants, and plans for additional menu items are already underway.
Healthy Fare for Kids’ nutritional guidelines includes pairing a protein with a serving of fruit or vegetables, Schmidt said. If the protein is a meat or poultry, it must be antibiotic-free. The initiative also asks restaurants to serve whole grains, local produce when available and prepare meals with little salt or sugar. Proper portion sizes also are vital, as both children and adults consume up to 50 percent more calories when eating at a restaurant, simply because the portions are bigger, Schmidt noted.
But beyond merely offering healthier fare, Schmidt hopes Midway travelers will find the meals as a way to begin to lead healthier lives.
“Each time our logo is seen, there’s a potential for discussion,” Schmidt said. “And discussions are the first step in changing behaviors. But of course the food they get to eat is very delicious and healthy.”
Two new complete streets and equity reports have been released and are the result of a project to study equity elements in complete streets policies, the characteristics of communities with equity elements in their policies, and to qualitatively understand how equity elements in complete streets policies are being implemented in practice. Learn more about the reports here.
Eight applicants have been awarded funds that will help young students walk, bike and roll safely to and from school.
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Leaders are people who are actively working - either professionally or as volunteers - to change policies and environments to help children eat better and be more active. We use the following criteria to evaluate whether to approve an applicant for Leader status with the Voices for Healthy Kids Action Center.
Do you meet the criteria below? If so, register as a Leader here. There is no cost to be a Leader.
At least one item must be checked within each of the following two categories:
1. Applicant is focused on changing policies and environments
They are working on one of Voices for Healthy Kid's six issue areas:
Ensure foods and beverages in schools meet dietary guidelines
Expand community access to high quality food
Expand physical activity programs in and out of school
Improve built environment in communities to increase physical activity
Use pricing strategies to promote purchase of healthier foods
Use regulation/policy to reduce youth exposure to unhealthy food marketing
They are working on other obesity-related issues, such as:
Their primary focus is working on individual behavior (e.g., teaching kids about food, play, etc.), but they have access to organizations that could provide opportunities to change environments, such as
Public Health Agencies
Their project is commercial, but contributes positively to changing policies and environments, such as:
2. Applicant is organizing others or contributing to organizing efforts
They are organizing others by:
Providing volunteer opportunities
Building contact lists of supporters to engage in advocacy
They provide support to organizations or leaders doing work changing policies and environments, such as:
They are a leader in a governmental body that may be the target of organizing efforts to change policies and environments, such as a:
Federal or state agency
Mayor or other local executive office
Federal, state, county or local public health department
Federal, state, county or transportation department
Federal, state or local education agency or school board
If the applicant claims to work for an organization, at least one item must be checked below:
3. Applicant works for an organization:
Has an email address that matches the domain of the organization they list
Is listed on the organization website as staff
The Voices for Healthy Kids Action Center is looking for bloggers who can write about issues that matter to our community on a regular basis. If you would like to be considered for this network, please check this box.