The National Restaurant Association today announced that the Beef Checkoff Program is a new sponsor of the Association’s award-winning Kids LiveWell program, a voluntary industrywide initiative designed to help make the healthful choice the easy choice when dining out with children.

The Association applauded the checkoff for its commitment to promoting and developing nutritious kids’ meals.

“The partnership between Kids LiveWell and the beef checkoff offers valuable opportunities to promote the important role that lean protein plays in building a healthful meal,” said Joan McGlockton, vice president, Industry Affairs & Food Policy, National Restaurant Association (NRA). “The sponsorship will aid current participants and restaurants looking to join the program by identifying healthful, innovative recipes that highlight lean cuts of beef, helping to provide the industry’s youngest patrons with the essential nutrients they need.”

In conjunction with its sponsorship, the checkoff has identified a collection of kid-friendly recipes in its database of triple-tested, on-trend recipes that meet the Kids LiveWell criteria. To make it turnkey for operators to incorporate these items on their menus, the recipes, nutritionals and pairing suggestions are available online at www.BeefFoodservice.com/NRAKidsLiveWell.aspx.

“America’s farmers and ranchers are committed to continuing to raise and supply nutritious beef for families, and we’re grateful for efforts like Kids LiveWell and its participating restaurants to highlight health for consumers," said Clay Burtrum, a stocker and cow-calf operator from Stillwater, Okla. and chairman of the checkoff’s Nutrition & Health Subcommittee.

"As a dad of three girls, I know how important it is for our children to have access to nutritious and healthy foods,” he said. “The kids’ menu can be a deciding factor for where to eat and, at the same time, parents themselves want a great steak or burger when dining out. By menuing a kids’ meal that includes beef, retaurants can attract parents making meal-time decisions for their family.”

The 2010 USDA Dietary Guidelines recommend that Americans build a healthy plate with nutrient-rich foods, including lean protein. High quality lean beef provides nutrients that are vital for a healthy and active lifestyle, from infancy to adulthood.

The NRA launched Kids LiveWell in 2011 to help restaurants highlight their better-for-you menu choices for children. To join the program, restaurant operators agree to offer and promote a selection of healthful menu items that meet nutrition criteria based on scientific recommendations from leading health organizations, including USDA's Dietary Guidelines.

Kids LiveWell was developed in collaboration with Healthy Dining, whose team of registered dietitians works with restaurants to identify and validate qualifying menu choices. Participating restaurants and their qualifying items are listed on HealthyDiningFinder.com, and also via a free Kids LiveWell app in the Android Market and iTunes App store.

Currently, Kids LiveWell includes 150 restaurant brands representing more than 42,000 locations nationwide.