We know that Australians are eating out more and spending a greater percentage of their household income on food and dining out. Food prepared away from home is often poorer in nutritional quality as it is higher in total calories, total fat, and salt, and often served in large portion sizes. Combined with anecdotal evidence suggesting that children’s menus lack the choice and nutritional value of wider menus, this can make it difficult for parents to find healthy options for their children when dining out. This is why the Healthy Kids Menu initiative was created.

As a result, a taskforce was established in 2015 to identify and propose a solution to the issue. Recommendations were developed through a co-design process which brought together expertise and practical wisdom from parents, local restaurants, caf├ęs, hotels, clubs and health. The Healthy Kids Menu Taskforce Report, including those recommendations, was released on Wednesday, 16 December 2015.

Following the release of the report, The Healthy Kids Menu initiative was piloted by twenty SA venues in 2016 and 2017. Taking on board learnings and trials of the pilot phase,  the initiative was formally launched on Tuesday, 22 August 2017.

Supporting venues to provide healthier options

Eat Active is a private enterprise collaborating with the Healthy Kids Menu Initiative and supported by the Government of South Australia.

Run by Taste Studios, the Eat Active initiative provided pre-prepared, healthy meal options for children in line with the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating. These healthy meal options were being provided to food outlets such as restaurants, pubs and clubs to sell onto their customers.

The partnership arrangement between Taste Studios and the Healthy Kids Menu Initiative arose from the D3 Digital Challenge, an initiative of the Department of Premier and Cabinet.

The D3 Digital Challenge worked to solve complex problems in innovative ways, through connecting government bodies with private entrepreneurs in a competitive process to create sustainable business solutions to address current social issues.

Taste Studios were participants in the D3 Digital Challenge #6, addressing the issue of ‘how can we increase the amount of healthy food options available for children when dining out’?

The Challenge was a competitive process open to the general public where various participants submitted their concepts for addressing the Challenge topic. A multidisciplinary panel of judges reviewed the proposed concepts, then deliberated the merits of the proposals at a Pitch and Awards night. Taste Studios were successful with their business concept and awarded seed funding by SA Health to support them to continue to develop and expand their business model, in partnership with the (then SA Health, now Wellbeing SA) Healthy Kids Menu Initiative team