Darden Restaurants, one of the largest operators of restaurants in the US that includes Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Capital Grille and Seasons 52, pledged Thursday to assist First Lady Michelle Obama´s “Let´s Move!” campaign in helping to fight childhood obesity with healthier menu options for children.
The First Lady and the Partnership for a Healthier America joined company leaders at an Olive Garden in Hyattsville, MD to announce its commitment, according to a Darden Restaurant press release.
Drew Madsen, President and Chief Operating Officer of Darden Restaurants said, “As a leader in culinary innovation, we pride ourselves on making good food better, and on finding new ways to nourish and delight everyone we serve Today we are taking a new step forward by creating a comprehensive health and wellness commitment, while preserving our commitment to offer our guests the delicious food they have come to know and love from their favorite Darden restaurants.”
Darden´s effort is a threefold commitment that includes a promise to reduce its overall calorie footprint, which will reduce calories by 10 percent over five years and a 20 percent decrease of calories over 10 years. The calories will be reduced by the company looking at reformulating, resizing and removing items from the menu and introducing new calorie-conscious, flavorful choices.
The second commitment is to reduce the sodium content by 10 percent over the next five years and 20 percent over the next 10 years. Darden will work with its suppliers to transition its menu items to align with national nutrition policy and allow for the evolution of consumer taste preferences and market innovations.
Moreover they will commit to healthier menu choices for the children´s menu that will appeal to kids and parents. They promise to make fruits or vegetables the default side dishes and an 8 ounce serving of 1 percent milk is the default drink option with free refills.
According to the White House press release, First Lady Michelle Obama welcomed the occasion by saying, “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.”
Image Caption: First Lady Michelle Obama and a Darden Restaurants chef greet attendees at an Olive Garden restaurant in Hyattsville, Maryland, Sept. 15, 2011. Mrs. Obama and Darden Restaurants were unveiling the company’s plans for a comprehensive new health and wellness initiative for menu changes to support the Let’s Move! campaign. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
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