Thursday, September 15, 2011

Today: Michelle Obama Joins Darden Restaurants To Unveil Let's Move! Commitment

Fruit, vegetables will be automatic sides for kids' meals; calorie & sodium reductions across the board...
UPDATE: A full post about the announcement is here.
This morning at an Olive Garden restaurant in Hyattsville, MD, First Lady Michelle Obama will join Clarence Otis, Jr., Chairman and CEO of Darden Restaurants, Inc., to unveil a major new project to support the Let's Move! campaign. In addition to Olive Garden, Darden is parent company to the restaurant brands Red Lobster, LongHorn Steakhouse, Bahama Breeze, The Capital Grille, and Seasons 52, and serves more than 400 million meals annually in 1,900 eateries in 49 states and Puerto Rico.

Parents must request fries and soda for kids' meals...
Included in the plan is a pledge to reduce both the calories and sodium content in all Darden meals by 10% over five years, and by 20% over ten years, according to a company spokesman. All children's meals will automatically come with a side of fruit or vegetables and eight ounces of 1% milk, unless a substitute is requested. French fries and sugary beverages become items that must be asked for under the new plan.

The initiative is "the most comprehensive health and wellness commitment in the restaurant industry to date," according to the Darden spokesman. The announcement is set for 11:45 AM.

Olive Garden eliminated French fries and milkshakes from its kids' menus in June, replacing them with grapes and fruit smoothies. Red Lobster currently offers orange wedges and broccoli slices with its kids' meals. Bahama Breeze also offers kids' entrees served with fresh fruit and broccoli, except for pasta, which is just served with fruit. Longhorn offers fresh fruit and a side of steamed broccoli or seasoned fries with kids' meals. The Capital Grille and Seasons 52 do not have kids' menus.

Otis, among other visits to the White House, had a private luncheon with President Obama and three other business leaders on July 12th, and was also part of a closed-press dinner for business CEOs in February of 2010.

"If Darden Restaurants decides to get behind Let's Move! and revamp their food offerings to be very healthy...that's a major impact in communities across the country," Obama Foodorama noted in the post about the dinner.

Darden is based in Orlando, Florida.

*Photo by Eddie Gehman Kohan/Obama Foodorama

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