Healthy Menus, Healthy Venues - Eating Out with Kids
In 2009, The Parents' Jury ran a campaign advocating for healthier food and drink options for children at restaurants, cafes, family entertainment and sporting venues called Healthy Menus, Healthy Venues.
On this page:Eating Out with Kids
Campaign for Change
Eating Out With Kids
Eating out with children can be a great pleasure, but sadly, the vast majority of cafes, restaurants and entertainment venues (swimming pools, bowling alleys, recreation centres, party venues, etc) offer children mainly high fat, energy dense, nutrient poor food options. Many of the foods on the kids’ menus of cafes and at other venues are already banned from school canteens across Australia because they are considered too unhealthy. So why are they still being offered as acceptable meals for children when dining out?
The Parents' Jury asked you for your opinion and the results showed that:
- 60% of you say you're dissatisfied with the food available to children when eating out of the home
- You named cinemas as the worst offenders for providing unhealthy food to children, with swimming pools/recreation venues rated the second worst
- Nearly half of respondents said they avoid venues that don't offer healthier options
- When choosing a restaurant, parents prioritise healthy age-appropriate children's options over the presence of playground facilities or speedy service
- You are irritated most by a lack of fresh made-to-order items at entertainment and sport venues and the emphasis on cheap and unhealthy ‘value meals'
- You showed overwhelming support (75%) for state governments to introduce catering guidelines food provision at entertainment and sport venues.
Campaign for Change
In response to your concerns and poll results, The Parents' Jury wrote to governments in February 2009 urging them to apply their existing school nutrition guidelines to entertainment and sport venues, which will limit the availability of high fat, sugar and salt products at these locations.
** Update Feb 09 **
We have written to Hoyts, Village Roadshow, Greater Union, Birch Carroll & Coyle and Readings cinemas advising them of the poll results (You named cinemas as the worst offenders for providing unhealthy food to children) and urging them to review their snack bars to provide healthier options for patrons. See what we sent them here.
Read their replies below:
Reply from Village Cinemas (PDF 405Kb)
Reply from Greater Union, Birch Carrol & Coyle (Amalgamated Holdings Limited) (PDF 465Kb)
** Update June 09 **
We have so far received responses from ministers in most state and territories, who are all supportive of our Healthy Menus, Healthy Venues campaign for healthier children’s option when dining out of the home.
- The NSW government has embarked on a “menu overhaul” at 11 sport and recreation facilities (reaching around 68,000 children per year), and is also developing profitable healthy food and drink strategies.
- The Tasmanian government has worked with the Hoteliers Association and Restaurant and Catering Association on the ‘Kool Fuel’ award program for restaurants that offer healthy options to children.
- The WA Department of Health and Healthway are working with various sport, arts and racing organisations to increase the availability of fresh and healthy food and drink options in these venues.
- ACT has developed the Healthy Events Made Easy tool kit to provide event organisers with simple healthy tips to incorporate in planning and delivering events.
- The SA government is currently exploring how to support healthy food provision in sporting and recreation settings.
- The Victorian government promotes the provision of healthy food and drink in leisure and recreation centres through a variety of initiatives.