Partner spotlight from PHA’s 2016 Annual Progress Report
Walking the virtual reality tightrope, flying down the chocolate slide and traveling back in time to the land of the dinosaurs are all pretty popular things to do at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. Know what’s less popular these days? Ordering French fries with lunch.
Kids who come to explore the world’s largest children’s museum instead chow down on applesauce, carrot sticks and celery on the side when they take a break from the fun to eat with their families. Mom and Dad have healthier choices as well, such as the Mindful Bistro Turkey Burger with carrots – not fries. All of this is because Sodexo, the dining services company that runs the museum’s food court, embraced healthier menu options for kids and families through its partnership with PHA.
Jere Krueger, Director of Retail and Food Services at the museum, said the changes have been popular with visitors.
We have seen that parents really like the options and have fewer and fewer requests for fries,” he said. “As the world’s biggest and best children’s museum, we work hard to communicate the message of the importance of physical activity and healthy eating. We are grateful Sodexo is supporting us.
Sodexo provides meals to more than 15 million consumers at 9,000 sites nationwide, including schools, businesses, hospitals and cultural destinations such as the Children’s Museum, which sees 1.2 million visitors each year. The company promised to overhaul its offerings to kids to make fruits and vegetables the default side dishes and water or low-fat milk the default beverages.
17 million free healthy breakfasts provided by Sodexo to students K-12
But revamping the kids’ menu at the Children’s Museum was only one step in a broader move toward better health. The museum also redesigned the food court to include stations – each with healthy kids’ and adult meal options – bringing in chefs to create an experience as pleasing for visitors’ bodies as the exhibits are for their minds.
When we remodeled the food court in 2015, we really saw an increase in healthy food options,” said Krueger. In addition to fruits and veggies on the side and healthier beverages, kids will find a make-your-own salad bar where they can build their own salad from over 20 healthier items. Turkey and cheese on wheat sandwiches, yogurt parfaits and fresh fruits and vegetables are a few of the many healthier items they can choose from. Those with food allergies and special diets are also given special consideration, with gluten friendly and vegetarian items available.
Erik Stukenberg, Sodexo’s General Manager at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, believes it is important to offer a variety of healthy options to guests and staff. “As health awareness grows within the youth community, Sodexo is proud to partner with PHA to help adults and children make better choices when it comes to food. We believe it is important to offer a variety of healthy options and our chefs frequently change the menu to reflect that,” said Stukenberg.
Recognizing that cost can also be an obstacle to healthy eating, Sodexo offers a range of price points for its healthy kids meals, some as low as $3.99. The new options are also a hit with staff, said Krueger. “There’s a sense of pride here among staff, that we are giving our guests something better.”
View Sodexo’s 2016 Annual Progress Report verified results.