Behavior Change
Subway Joins First Lady in Promoting Healthy Food to Kids by 'Powering Playtime with Veggies'

In the latest in a string of recent efforts to engage children in the joys of healthy eating, First Lady Michelle Obama announced last week that Subway® restaurants has joined the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) and Mrs. Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative in a three-year commitment to promote healthier food choices to kids. As part of its commitment, Subway will launch a series of fun, engaging campaigns aimed at increasing fruit and vegetable consumption in children; set and implement new marketing standards to kids; and strengthen its children’s menu offerings, which the chain says are already nutritious.

Subway is the first quick-service chain to join PHA, which works with the private sector and Mrs. Obama – PHA’s honorary chair – to broker meaningful commitments to help end the childhood obesity epidemic. The commitment follows the first-ever White House meeting on food marketing to children last fall, during which Mrs. Obama called on the private sector to leverage the power of marketing to promote healthier products and decrease the marketing of unhealthy products to kids.

As part of its commitment, Subway says it will only offer items on its kids menu – now dubbed Fresh Fit for Kids™ – that meet strong nutritional guidelines informed by federal standards for the national school lunch program, including offering apples as a side and low-fat or non-fat milk or water as a default beverage.

“I’m excited about these initiatives not just as a First Lady, but also as a mom,” the First Lady said. “Subway’s kids’ menu makes life easier for parents, because they know that no matter what their kids order, it’s going to be a healthy choice.”

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Additionally, the chain says it will deliver $41 million in media value in the next three years to market healthier options, specifically fruits and veggies, to children and families. The brand’s largest kid-focused marketing campaign to date will permeate the chain’s general marketing, in-store merchandising, TV, social and digital media, and public relations. Training materials will teach Sandwich Artists to encourage kids to choose apples, and in-store merchandising and marketing will focus on these healthy options.

“Subway restaurant’s commitment builds on the brand’s already strong track record of offering healthier choices to kids, for which it has been lauded by families and health advocates alike,” said PHA Board Chair James R. Gavin, III, MD, PhD. “The investment it is making will not only help make fruits and vegetables fun for kids, it will also offer busy moms and dads easy, healthy choices for their families when they’re on the go.”

“Ending childhood obesity is a cause that has been near and dear to Subway since we introduced the Fresh Fit for Kids Meals in 2007,” said Suzanne Greco, Subway’s VP of R&D and Operations. “From a sign on each restaurant’s door that says ‘Playtime Powered by Veggies’ to a video collaboration with Disney’s The Muppets, we will build upon our ongoing efforts to create even better choices for families. We hold ourselves to the highest standards in the industry when it comes to speaking to children and their families. Now we are letting everyone else know what that standard is.”

Specifically, during each of the next three years, the SUBWAY® brand will:

  • Offer only kids’ meals that are Fresh Fit for Kids™ meals and meet the following criteria:

  • Less than or equal to 600 calories, including no artificial trans fat, less than 10% of calories from saturated fat and less than 935 mg of sodium, in line with federal children’s meal standards.

  • All meals will provide ½ cup fruit equivalent and ¾ cup vegetable equivalent and low-fat or nonfat milk (or dairy equivalent) or water as the default beverage. In addition, Subway will work with PHA to develop bread options that meet dietary guidance.

  • Subway will recommend that its franchisees price Fresh Fit for Kids™ meals less than or equal to all items sold individually.

  • Assist the selection of fruit with Fresh Fit for Kids™ meals by:

  • Training staff for prompt taking of apples from cooler

  • Placing messaging on/in Fresh Fit for Kids™ meal bag that promotes fruit selection.

  • Ensure that any advertising on children’s programming or targeting children meets the profiles set above.

In November, the First Lady announced a potentially game-changing collaboration aimed at increasing children’s interest in healthy eating. Sesame Workshop and the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) formed a two-year agreement with the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) to help promote fresh fruit and vegetable consumption to kids that allows PMA’s community of growers, suppliers and retailers to use the likenesses of popular Sesame Street characters to promote produce without a licensing fee. Sesame Street characters may appear on produce in stores as early as mid-2014.

Another fast-food chain, McDonald’s, announced in September it is trying its hand at promoting healthier menu options to kids and families through a partnership with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, with the goal of increasing customers' access to fruit and vegetables and encouraging families and children to make informed nutritional choices. With AHG’s help, McDonald's developed a plan to offer salad, fruit or vegetable as a substitute for fries in value meals; and promote water, milk or juice as the beverage option in Happy Meals in 20 of the restaurant chain's largest markets around the world. In November, the burger giant also offered a limited run of four original Happy Meal Books designed to encourage children to eat right and be more active.

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