Diane Schmidt, a 43rd ward parent and health educator reached out to Sarah Stegner, a James Beard Award-winning chef and co-chef and co-owner of Prairie Grass Cafe and Prairie Fire Restaurant, for support in the initiative that is a call for restaurants to offer at least one delicious, healthy and seasonal option for children. Healthy meals focus on a few guiding principles: serving delicious foods that are whole grains, seasonal foods, cooking with methods low in fat and simple portion sizes.
A concerned parent, Schmidt approached Michele Smith, Alderman of the 43rd Ward, about her concerns for children's nutrition. Smith, an advocate for local and sustainable foods, encouraged Schmidt to go to the Green City Market, which eventually led her to Stegner, herself an advocate for children's healthy eating and long-time Green City Market board member. Schmidt and Stegner combined forces with Carol Wagner, holistic nutrition consultant, to develop guidelines to help restaurants create healthy options for kids.
While Healthy Fare for Kids is launching in Chicago's 43rd Ward next month, its goals do not end there. It's their hope that in early 2012, the Healthy Fare for Kids program will encompass the city of Chicago, and they eventually plan to take the program nationwide.
Restaurants participating in this December's launch include: Cafe Ba Ba Reeba (2024 N. Halsted, Chicago, IL 60614; 773-935-5000)
Stegner has personally invited some of Chicago's top chefs to participate in the Healthy Fare for Kids program, including Alexander Brunacci, Tim Cottini, Christian Eckman, Matt Moroni, Bruce Sherman, Jared Van Camp, Paul Virant and Susan Weaver.
She has piloted similar fare in her own restaurants and has been surprised at the great response from kids and their families.
"If you put delicious healthy food in front of kids and give them a chance: They will eat it!" Stegner says.
Visit http://www.healthyfareforkids.com for a complete and growing list of participating restaurants.
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