Panera Bread has established itself as a champion of the ‘clean food’ movement, throwing its weight behind efforts to improve industry transparency and deliver ‘food as it should be.’ Building on its Kids Meal Promise, the restaurant chain has announced a new approach to kids food. Children can now choose almost any item on the Panera menu as a smaller sized entrée, resulting in more than 250 menu combinations.
“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. As a parent, I’m proud that I could eat off the Panera kids menu and still enjoy delicious and wholesome meals,” said Ron Shaich, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Panera. “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.”
Panera issue its Kids Meal Promise in August 2016 to express its long-held beliefs about kids meals and commitments relative to its Panera Kids™ menu. The promise is intended to be a challenge to the restaurant industry and food manufacturers offering kids food. The five tenets of the Kids Meal Promise are to eliminate artificial ingredients, gimmicks and sugary drinks and provide nutritious, wholesome options.
Hey @Wendys, @BurgerKing & @McDonalds - Would you eat off your kids’ menu for a week? Join me in the #KidsMenuChallenge - Ron pic.twitter.com/v61cRNKM7A — Panera Bread (@panerabread) September 20, 2017
“At Panera, we say let kids be picky — our cafes should offer the same choices and transparency to children as we do to adults. 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 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,” said Sara Burnett, Director of Wellness and Food Policy at Panera Bread.
With the new approach, more than 250 clean meal combinations are available in Panera cafes, as well as the company’s end-to-end digital pathways, including Rapid Pickup, Fast Lane Kiosks and Delivery. Each option is fully customizable, enabling 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. 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,” said Josh Golin, Executive Director at Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood.