How Restaurants and K-12 Can Support Healthier Lifestyles

How Restaurants and K-12 Can Support Healthier Lifestyles

Diet-related illnesses like obesity continue to show concerning upward trends in the U.S., especially among kids and teens. This even prompted action at the government level, with the White House holding its first Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health in fifty years to discuss the effects of these issues on the population. Restaurant operators and K-12 food program directors are also responding to the health crisis by rethinking their menus to include more health-forward options. Here are a few ways that foodservice professionals are working to counteract the effects of poor diets.


Foodservice Operators Are Leading the Solution


Operators are spearheading efforts to make healthy eating a priority, a move that parallels recent consumer demand. Though comfort food was the fare of choice at the start of the pandemic, consumer demand is now swinging back to favoring more health-forward options. Diners are increasingly looking for foods with clean labels and natural, recognizable ingredients. According to Technomic, 66% of consumers say they order healthy items at least sometimes, with 10% saying they always order healthy options.


But healthier ingredients can be pricey. Recognizing this, the foodservice business Everytable have made it their mission to bring healthy food to the masses. Their restaurants, vending machines and subscription service offer nutrition-forward items at prices on par with fast food. Some quick-serve and fast-casual brands are even offering fitness classes and wellness workshops since consumer beliefs about healthy living extend beyond the table. And though gluten-free menu options were limited in the past, chefs and operators are developing fresh and sophisticated recipes to appeal to diners’ increasing demand.


Healthy Options for K-12 Are More Crucial Than Ever


Studies show that many kids eat their healthiest meals at school K-12, so food directors have an opportunity to stall the concerning upward trend of childhood obesity. To maintain and increase student participation in school lunch, K-12 foodservice operators need to serve great-tasting healthy foods. On their top ten food trends for kids in 2023, Chartwell’s K-12 emphasized serving more nutritious options including more plant-based items, offering fruit-based smoothies for students on the go and encouraging them to “eat the rainbow” in fruits and vegetables.


Restaurant operators and school food directors looking to incorporate better-for-you options on their menu can rely on Butterball to provide lean, healthy proteins. When menuing healthier options, turkey is an outstanding choice of protein, especially for children, which:


  • provides all nine essential amino acids that are crucial for the body to build, maintain and restore muscle.
  • is loaded with B vitamins, which aid adrenal function and help maintain a healthy nervous system.
  • contains a gold mine of minerals such as iron and zinc, which support a strong immune system.


Learn more about the functional health benefits of turkey with this infographic.


By offering more health-forward menu options, operators and K-12 food directors can help turn the tide of diet-related illnesses in the U.S. How are you incorporating healthier options on your menu? Share your ideas on our Facebook or LinkedIn pages, and visit our Resource Center for more tips and trends.




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