Food is a big deal in Cleveland. Head over to the West Side market and you’ll find delicacies from around the globe - from pierogies to pork neck to pad thai! Local chefs even rival professional athletes as celebrities and representatives of the CLE.
Is there anything that Clevelanders love more than food?
That’s an easy one – our kids! Those precocious little bundles of joy. Those mess-making, snack-devouring, constantly-on-the-go apples of our eyes. We love them, and we’d do anything for them.
Someday they’ll show their gratitude, but until then it’s up to us - moms, dads, grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings, friends, neighbors - to keep them safe and healthy. Ensuring that our kids get fresh, nutritious foods is a big responsibility, and it’s never too early to teach the importance of diet to overall wellbeing. The smart choices we make now, and the food norms we instill in our kids, will pay off for the rest of their lives.
But the responsibility for creating a healthy, equitable food system doesn’t just fall on parents. It’s up to us, as a Cleveland community, to make sure that we make healthy eating accessible across the city, for all Clevelanders, every day.
That’s why, in 2020, the American Heart Association convened a group of community organizations, food advocates, health care providers, dieticians, and chefs to work on healthy kids’ meals. Their work influenced Cleveland City Council to pass a healthy default drinks policy for restaurant kids’ meals. The law went into effect in 2021 and ensured that sugary drinks - the number one source of added sugars in the American diet - aren’t offered on local kids’ menus.
Now, we’re taking the next step.
You mean, hiring a babysitter to do this grueling work? No, not that!
We’re doing more to ensure that Cleveland kids eat healthy foods. Our goal is a policy that ensures restaurant kids’ meals include healthy entrees and sides. By asking local restaurants to offer more fruit, vegetables and whole grains, as well as adhering to recommended limits on calories, salt and fat, Cleveland City Council can take another common-sense step to promote healthy choices and help kids grow up at a healthy weight.
Like the healthy default drinks policy, there’s science to back up healthy entrees and sides for kids’ meals. Data shows that our busy lifestyles mean we rely on restaurant meals more than ever, and that kids consume almost twice as many calories at restaurants compared to a typical home meal. Unfortunately, the majority of children’s meals at popular restaurants are packed with salt, sugar, and fat. This puts our kids at risk.
At the heart of the effort is a commitment to make Cleveland a healthier place for kids and families.
We’ll give you some time to look at the menu.
Take a few minutes to review the resources on these pages, and then join the multitude of voices from across Cleveland calling for healthier kids’ meals.