Could you eat off a kids' menu for a week?

mountain of fries
CC BY 2.0 Evelyn Giggles

The CEO of Panera Bread has issued an amusing challenge to other fast food CEOs.

The CEO of Panera Bread has presented an interesting challenge to the CEOs of other fast food restaurants. In a short promotional video announcing healthy changes to Panera's children's menu, Ron Shaich said:

"I challenge the CEOs of McDonald's, Wendy's and Burger King to eat off of their kids menu for a week, or to re-evaluate what they're serving our children in their restaurants."

Since most kids' menus consist of burgers, pizza, and chicken nuggets, served with a side of fries and a sugary beverage (and a plastic toy that will be forgotten by the time you get home), many adults would likely find the thought of eating that for a week to be utterly repulsive. There is little variety or flavor, beyond the grease and salt, not to mention a pathetic lack of nutritional value.

So why, then, are we feeding this to our kids at all? If growing healthy children is a priority, why have kids' menus not caught up with adult menus in offering delicious, nutritious food?

Panera has decided to address this problem by opening up its entire adult menu to children. Suddenly, kids can order things like Greek salad with quinoa and greens, Napa almond chicken salad, tomato mozzarella flatbread, broccoli cheddar soup -- in smaller sizes for lower prices. Kids will be able to choose from more than 250 menu options. Not all of Panera's products are healthy, of course, but the point is that kids deserve diversity when it comes to choosing meals in restaurants.

kids menuCory Doctorow -- An amusing kids' menu from a cafe in Oxford, UK/CC BY 2.0

Hopefully this will spur other restaurants to do the same. I was a child who always found the kids' menu to be enormously offensive, much preferring the delicious items on the adult menu. I've grown into an adult who believes that kids are far more capable of enjoying flavor than we give them credit for -- not to mention that every other species feeds its weaned offspring essentially the same food that its parents eat. Only we weird humans think kids need some sort of in-between, nutritionally-deficient diet.

NPR reports that the other CEOs have not yet responded to Shaich's challenge, but McDonald's did tell NPR that it's proud of certain changes, including shrinking servings of fries and including apple slices in all Happy Meals.

Tags: Diet | Food Miles | Food Safety | Food Security | Fruits & Vegetables | Health | Kids

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