Panera Bread Unveils Largest Clean Kids Menu Of Any National Restaurant Chain

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Panera Bread is located at 228 Main Street in Wilmington.)

ST. LOUIS, MO — Panera Bread announced this week a new approach to kids food—children can choose almost any item on the Panera menu as a smaller sized entree, resulting in more than 250 clean menu combinations. To spark further dialogue for change, Panera founder, Chairman and CEO Ron Shaich challenged leading restaurant industry CEOs to join him in eating from their kids menus exclusively for seven straight days.

“For too long, restaurants in America have served menus full of nutritionally empty chicken nuggets, pizza and fries, paired with sugary drinks and cheap toys. We believe kids must come first,” said Panera founder, Chairman and CEO Ron Shaich. “As a parent, I’m proud that I could eat off the Panera kids menu and still enjoy delicious and wholesome meals. I’m challenging the CEOs of some of the largest companies in the industry—McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s—to personally eat exclusively from their restaurants’ kids meals for an entire week—and if not, to take a thoughtful look at what they are offering our smallest guests.”

In August 2016, Panera issued its Kids Meal Promise to express the company’s long-held beliefs about kids meals and commitments relative to its Panera Kid menu. The promise is meant to be a challenge to the restaurant industry and to all food manufacturers who offer kids food. The five tenets of the Kids Meal Promise include:

  • Clean. No artificial flavors, preservatives, sweeteners or colors from artificial sources in any menu item (as publicly defined on Panera’s No No List).
  • No marketing gimmicks. No cartoon characters, crazy colors, toys, or toy-shaped food.
  • Real options. Let kids be kids. Let them be picky. Let them make their own choices from a menu full of tasty, wholesome options.
  • Nutritiously paired. Growing bodies need a meal complete with nutritious sides. Not fries, not onion rings. Options like organic yogurt, sprouted grain rolls, apples or no side at all.
  • No sugar-laden drinks as part of a meal. Kids meals shouldn’t be bundled with a sugary drink. Ours never have, never will.

“At Panera, we say let kids be picky—our cafes should offer the same choices and transparency to children as we do to adults,” said Sara Burnett, Director of Wellness and Food Policy. “We’re not saying a child will suddenly order a salad over mac & cheese – but kids can surprise you when they have positive options to choose from. We believe that kids should have that choice, and furthermore that we should not bundle their entrees with fries and sugary drinks that make the combination a nutritional nightmare. Finally, we believe we should not induce the consumption of these nutritionally empty meals by marketing a kids meal with toys and cartoon characters.”

More than 250 clean kids meal combinations are available in Panera cafes as well as via all of Panera’s end-to-end digital pathways, including Rapid Pickup, Fast Lane Kiosks and Delivery. Each option is fully customizable, enabling a better guest experience for all people—including kids—to eat the way they want.

“Panera rightly recognizes that healthy eating habits are about more than what kids eat, but also how and why,” says Josh Golin, Executive Director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. “In an era when so many companies seek to manipulate kids with marketing, Panera’s approach is respectful of parents and children alike. When kids have the space to discover new tastes without the lure of giveaways and  gimmicks, they’re more likely to develop a healthy relationship with food.”

For more information, visit http://www.PaneraKids.com.

(NOTE: The above press release is from Panera Bread.)

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