Last week the nation’s largest quick-service chicken concept, Chick-fil-A, announced a revamped kids menu offering perhaps the industry’s healthiest options for little tikes. In a market clouded with lots of trans-fat and fried mystery meat, Chick-fil-A’s new kid’s meal includes applesauce and get this………grilled chicken nuggets! That’s right – a QSR actually offering grilled chicken to kids instead of the traditional fried chunks of highly processed ‘chicken’ that some of the other chains are still slinging.
Moves like this make me very happy. Don’t get me wrong, I work in an industry frought with claims of leading to childhood obesity and aiding the nation in over-eating and over-weight adults. While River’s Edge Project Management does not have any role in the menus or products that our clients sell (we make sure the walls are able to support the menuboard and that the lobby looks fantastic to the customer), I certainly don’t agree with the side of the fence that points the blame at this industry – personal responsibility (or rather lack thereof) needs to be the one catching the blame. I’ve said it before in articles about the brilliant menu-labelling legislation (note the sarcasm when I say brilliant) so I won’t get into that again (right now anyways), people need to be cognicent of what they are eating and they need to be even more in tune with what their kids are eating.
On this sunny MLK day, I took the morning off and accompanied my oldest son to go see a pre-school play. First off, let me just get it out there that ‘watching’ a play with an entire auditorium of children under the age of five is interesting at best! Luckily the whole thing only lasted about 45 minutes and then we were left only with the question of where to grab some lunch. We settled (read, my son adamantly chose) on a large chain restaurant nearby. The restaurant, which I’ll leave nameless for now, is your typical ‘put so many giant TVs in one room that it’s impossible to focus on anything in particular’ type of place. Thanks in large part to my beautiful wife, my kids and I eat very well and generally very, very healthy. We don’t eat out much and it’s an even rarer opportunity that I take one of my kids out by myself, so it’s always interesting to see what they choose to order. For the most part it’s open game when out with Dad – as long as they steer clear of the ‘market-price’ lobster or things of the sort I’m pretty ok with them picking their own meals.
Today’s restaurant experience was also an interesting one. First off, when my son ordered an apple juice we were told that the only ‘juice’ they have is lemonade……this bugs me something fierce, but I won’t get into that now either. My son cheerfully accepted a lemonade and we went to work on the kids menu. After looking over some fried this and fried that (all the while he was informing me that this menu ‘doesn’t have much healthy stuff for kids’), he settled on the house mac’n'cheese. Much to my suprise, after he orderd his food the waitress rattled off a list of possible sides that actually included apple slices in between untold amounts of trans-fat sticks and things of the like. Much more to my suprise was that when my son smiled and ordered the apple sticks, the server looked at him like he was crazy!
The point I’m making, and I apologize for the rambling, is that as adults it is up to us to make healthy choices in life. As parents, it is of the utmost importance that we make healthy choices for our kids so that they may grow up to make healthy choices for themselves. So that someday, they may pick the apple slices over the fried face forms. They can’t make these good choices; however, if there aren’t such options on the menu. My hat is off to Chick-fil-A for boldly taking a step in the right direction and I applaud the other QSR and Fast Casual concepts that are also begining to head in the same direction. I suspect that we will see more and more of these healthy options springing up because quick-serves are here to stay, and if we as a nation want to do the same we need to start picking the healthy choices (at least once in a while).