Michelle Obama and Olive Garden team up for healthier kids meals
September 15th, 2011
10:30 AM ET
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Hospitaliano is about to get a whole lot healthier.

Darden Restaurants, the world's largest full-service restaurant company and the parent organization behind popular chain eateries including Olive Garden, Red Lobster, LongHorn Steakhouse and Bahama Breeze, announced today that it is committing to reduce the calorie count and salt content of its food and provide more nutritious options on its children’s menus.

Executives from the company will share the details of their initiative today via a live webcast from an Olive Garden restaurant in Hyattsville, Maryland. Along with representatives from Partnership for a Healthier America, First Lady Michelle Obama is scheduled to appear and express her support for the menu revamp as part of her "Let’s Move!" campaign to offer healthier options for restaurant diners and reduce childhood obesity.

According to a press release from Darden Restaurants, specific changes include promises to reduce sodium in its offerings by ten percent over the next five years and 20 percent over the next ten years, establishing specific nutrition standards to guide the development of its children’s meals by offering more choices, and making fruits or vegetables the default side dish option and an 8-ounce serving of 1 percent milk the default beverage with free refills.

In addition, Darden has pledged to work toward a ten percent reduction of calories over five years and a 20 percent reduction of calories over ten years by "reformulating, resizing and removing certain items, and introducing new calorie-conscious, flavorful choices," per the press release.

Representatives for Darden Restaurants say that the company joined forces with the Partnership for a Healthier America - the nonprofit organization that works with the First Lady on her “Let’s Move!” initiative - to develop the nutritional benchmarks and will continue to do so as the effort progresses.

Mrs. Obama previously announced collaborations with major food retailers across the country in an effort to stamp out food deserts and addressed to National Restaurant Association to express concerns over the high calorie content of their menu offerings.

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Filed under: Chain • Childhood Obesity • Health News • Michelle Obama • Restaurant News • Restaurants

soundoff (202 Responses)
  1. what are options

    Today, while I was at work, my sister stole my iphone and tested to
    see if it can survive a 30 foot drop, just so she can
    be a youtube sensation. My iPad is now destroyed and she has 83 views.
    I know this is completely off topic but I had to share it with someone!

    October 8, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
  2. Jan

    Most Americans object to the excesses not the everyday expenses to entertain America's guests or the expense of upkeep of the White House. In these economic times when most of us have not had increases in salaries or pensions for several years it rankles when we see all the expense for unnecessary travel and entertainment by our President and First Lady. With many of our citizens saddled with credit card debt they are struggling to pay the President sets a poor example when he increases the National Debt with no thought for already overburdened tax payers and generations to come. The unemployment rate continues to climb. The polls we hear about fail to take into consideration those who do not qualify for unemployment or those who have used all their benefits. There have been no polls to tell us how many are working for pay far below what they previously earned. Prices are increasing on everything from groceries to car and health insurance. Most of our elected officials including our President send me the message that we American citizens mean nothing to them except at election time when they need our vote!

    November 10, 2011 at 9:09 pm |
  3. enough of this rabbit food

    Bacon, cheese french fries so good! Yeeehah!

    October 13, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
  4. md-ndpndt

    I think this is great news and I hope more restaurants follow suit. I rarely take my kids out to restaurants because the kids menus typically offer nothing but unhealthy food. When we do go out, I bring vegetables for them to eat along with the junk. I applaud the FLOTUS for raising awareness of the undeniably growing problem of childhood obesity. Yes it is about choices and moderation, and I don't support a nanny state. Clearly it starts and ends with the parents but I'm sure most of the parents eat unhealthily too and are just passing on these bad habits to their children.

    October 13, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
  5. Noxious Sunshine

    Screw Darden. I worked for Red Lobster for 2 yrs & it was hell..

    The lobster nachos were pretty awesome, though...

    September 17, 2011 at 10:18 am |
    • Howard

      HYPOCRISY ...
      The Obama's have a full time, live-in, pastry chef (paid for with our tax money.
      While endlessly pontificating to Americans about diet, eating sliced apples, and
      using the weight of the White House to influence restaurant chain menus ... unlike
      the rest of us, the Obama's gorge themselves with lobster and $400 dollar a bottle

      September 17, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
      • K

        Let me guess....you think Bush or his Republican counterparts never took advantage of White House chefs or any lavish gourmet meals. yeah, right!

        September 19, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
      • md-ndpndt

        What idiocy. Like every other previous occupant of the white house, the Obamas host numerous dinner parties and of course they'd have an in-house pastry chef. What, would you expect them to pick up a cheesecake from Cheesecake Factory to serve to their guests?

        It's not like they brought the pastry chef from Chicago – this is just one of several thousand white house employees. You're an idiot.

        October 13, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
      • Frank-0@md-ndpndt

        Yup, dude is a total idiot from the get go.

        October 13, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
      • Delta

        The kitchen staff doesn't get changed over with each regime. They come & go like any other business: some stay for a few years to pad their resume; others have been there for 20+ years. Get educated before posting ignorant blather.

        October 13, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
      • Frank-0@Delta

        Not a lot of hope for these clowns. Just easier to remain ignorant than educate oneself.

        October 13, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
      • Delta@Frank-0

        Point taken. At the very least, I have to try. If I can get thru to just one person ....

        October 13, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
      • Frank-0@Delta

        My hat is off to you. Happy blogging!

        October 13, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
  6. Archie

    Edith!!!!Where's my diner???

    September 16, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
  7. Confused say

    is choosing not to choose, making a choice?

    September 16, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
  8. LunchBox

    only thing missing is the fried bologna samich...

    September 16, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
  9. nunya

    I'm healthy, eat right, and excercise. I made the choice, not the government....moderation is what it takes, not governmental control. Enough already....

    September 16, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
  10. My O My

    I find it sad that you have people that will all ways find the negative in a positive situation. Why not applaud this restaurant group for realizing there is an epidemic that we all contribute to and for wanting to make a change? Sorry I forgot that using a person's race or government control as the basis for their individual argument which seems to be the popular thing to do nowadays. For a moment step back and look at the size of your family and eating out habits and say hey, we have some new healthier choices for our next family dinner. That is if you would like to, because we all have a CHOICE of what we put into our bodies.

    September 16, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
  11. John

    All I can say is......what the heck were we thinking voting these people to this high office?

    September 16, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
    • Liberal Stooge

      Beats the heck out of having some Rucking Fee-publican preaching the Gospel of the Right during State of the Union addresses.

      September 16, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
    • Jimmy Crackhead

      I was High when I pressed the button in the voting booth.

      September 16, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • Blimpy

      Beats having a dashboard cowboy Texan that racks up 10 trillion in debt.

      September 16, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
      • steve g

        By bringing Perry into yet but another discussion not poltical in nature, you have shown your fear for him. You can't get him off your minds.. you are sooo scared. Keep it up, give him the free publicity, and watch Texas put another president in the White House.... again, and again. Enjoy! PALIN-PERRY 2012

        September 16, 2011 at 10:28 pm |
  12. Tony

    Seriously, how much control of your life do you want to give the government?

    September 16, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
    • Flex

      I think the government should control every aspect of our lives from cradle to grave and be done with it.

      September 16, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
      • Jane

        Hey Flex we are on that track now!! Are you sure that's what you want? I don't! My family and friends did not die in wars for our freedom for "our" government to monkey around with every aspect of my life

        October 14, 2011 at 12:59 am |
  13. julie

    The better not mess with my fettacini alfredo!!! :(

    September 16, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
  14. ItsMeAgain

    Maybe she could merchandise a new fat-free dressing that could also help shed some lbs off her fat booty. How about a fat-free cheesy ranch dressing with bacon bits. That's sounds like a winner. They could call the new cheesy flavor flav "Barack Obama."

    September 16, 2011 at 11:20 am |
    • Cheeto Kat

      Eazy, cheezy!

      September 16, 2011 at 11:23 am |
    • Secret Service

      If you wonder why you'll never be invited to the White House for dinner, please ask. We know who you are and we can trace your email address directly to it's origins. Please ..... ask.

      September 16, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
      • nunya

        Who the heck wants to eat at the white house? get a life.

        September 16, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
      • Patriotic American

        I wouldn't have a problem eating at the White House. For a patriotic American, it would be an honor to be invited regardless of who is the POTUS at the time. In fact, it's an honor no matter where you're from. "Get a life"? How 'bout you show some respect for the greatest country on the planet – warts & all.

        September 16, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
      • Nunya

        I've served and fought, for the right to decide where I want to eat or not eat in this great country of ours. I also have the freedom to totaly disagree with you, God I love this country!!!!!

        September 16, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
      • Patriotic American@sfb

        Of course you have all those rights. What are you, 12? You asked a snarky question with a snarky ending. I answered rationally without one. I win! [:-P

        September 16, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
  15. gma94

    I can cut back on salt and fats at home. I occasionally go out to splurge. Can't the government stay out of ANY part of my life? Why do they insist that they know better than I do?

    September 16, 2011 at 11:09 am |
  16. Kel

    This is hardly controversial, yet people still find a way to criticize her efforts. She’s not “telling you what to eat,” she’s trying to raise awareness on the topic. What’s wrong with that? Because apparently Americans don’t know much about eating right considering we’re getting fatter and fatter. Childhood obesity is escalating at an alarming rate, leading to an increase in diseases like early diabetes (if you knew what was in school cafeteria food, I’ll bet you wouldn’t let your kids eat it). You let Ronald McDonald and pervasive advertisements tell your kid what to eat, why not let the First Lady suggest for them to exercise? It’s not like this is a government mandate. If you want to go ahead and overeat yourself to death, the First Lady isn’t stopping you.

    September 16, 2011 at 10:21 am |
    • Cj


      September 16, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
    • Howard

      HYPOCRISY ...
      The Obama's have a full time, live-in, pastry chef (paid for with our tax money.
      While endlessly pontificating to Americans about diet, eating sliced apples, and
      using the weight of the White House to influence restaurant chain menus ... unlike
      the rest of us, the Obama's gorge themselves with lobster and cases of wine, at
      $400 per bottle.

      September 17, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
  17. Iowan

    While I applaud MRs. Obama's concern for our children, the attack on restaurants is misplaced. Unless a family is eating there every single night, childhood obesity is NOT caused by what is on the children's menu. It is caused by what choices are being made at HOME. But I guess it is easier to claim you are doing something by working at something meaningless.

    September 16, 2011 at 10:19 am |
    • Vanilla Gorilla

      How about all those little tubs of goo getting some exercise? While walking the dog this morning saw a school bus stop that looked a staging area for mini-sumo's – most of them sporting their little beer bellys
      Unless they eat at the Olive Garden 4-5 times a week and stuff themselves to the point of puking that is not the problem for all the obesity – morbid obesity etc

      September 16, 2011 at 11:22 am |
  18. Tast33

    The people who call Michelle Obama a fat cow are probably the same squawkers who call Ali Lohan an anorexic drone. Michelle Obama is a great role model for our kids – you don't have to be a toothpick to be healthy and beautiful. It's amazing how peoples' perceptions change from one article to the next. Please just educate yourselves before you shoot off at the mouth. When you read posts on these message boards it's not hard to understand why some people are still embarrassed to be called Americans. Fat slobby whiners who don't want to take responsibility for our children's health but also don't want anyone telling us to do it either. Poison your kids with junk food if you want, the weak die out and the strong will survive.

    September 16, 2011 at 10:17 am |
    • Howard

      The Obama's have a full time, live-in, pastry chef (paid for with our tax money.
      While endlessly pontificating to Americans about diet, eating sliced apples, and
      using the weight of the White House to influence restaurant chain menus ... unlike
      the rest of us, the Obama's gorge themselves with lobster and $400 dollar a bottle

      September 17, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
  19. QuirkyOne

    Typical Black ass coming through! Is it me or she getting fat? Also, who thinks she's an attractive woman...Sorry, I dont see it! oh...and the boy-ama stays skinny!

    September 16, 2011 at 7:34 am |
  20. MIkel

    You know, I am sick of seeing Michelle Obama trying to get all of us to eat better. It kind of ,misses the mark, when you look at HOW HER OWN FAMILY EATS.

    Is it really fair to be in the public eye about food, when her own hips keep spreading too? I know I have noticed, and I think that's why there are few body shots of Michelle, showing her hips versus her rest of her body.

    In my home town, the "Fat Czar" of Toledo, Ohio DID AND STILL DOES own a pizza restaurant... and formerly a bar.

    Liberals need to take into account of how they do things is how people/the public will react... not what they say.

    It's "Monkey see, monkey do." That was always the phrase... and no not a racist one either... you hater.

    In essence, show me how to eat... don't just tell me and do the opposite.

    September 16, 2011 at 7:01 am |
    • Sir MixaLot

      I like Big Butts and I cannot lie !!

      September 16, 2011 at 7:10 am |
      • MIkel

        Hips, not butts

        September 16, 2011 at 7:23 am |
    • jendtee

      how often do you dine with the obama family? interesting you know their meal choices well enough to comment on them.

      September 16, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
      • Upshutay

        bout as often as your lard but

        September 16, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
  21. James

    Tacos are delicious.

    September 16, 2011 at 4:38 am |
    • Humphrey

      Yes they are.

      September 16, 2011 at 7:15 am |
      • Smelly

        especially pink ones.

        September 16, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
  22. ruth

    i am older than dirt and recall a far more wonderful variety of foods available 20 – 30 – 50 – 60 – 70 and more years ago. i miss all that.
    as i read through comments here I marvel that people can object to being told what to eat by Mrs Obama, since we have been hooked, lined, and sinkered for years, having long been told what to eat by a bunch of money-hungry bullies who use attractive images of people eating all sorts of things. why not object to that kind of mind-bending?

    September 16, 2011 at 1:59 am |
    • Dolores

      Thank you Ruth.

      September 16, 2011 at 8:36 am |
    • Tam

      Bravo, Ruth. People don't know how to buy, cook or eat real food anymore. Processing ruins food nutritionally and its taste. But it's profitable, so it is promoted constantly.

      September 16, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
  23. Elise

    Come on, America! Where is the accountability?! It should not take a restaurant chain or the First Lady to tell you how to feed your family. Educate yourself and be responsible. I grew up with three brothers. And you know what? My mother cooked healthy meals for us, and- made sure we knew how to cook healthy meals for ourselves and the family. We knew how to make smart choices when we went out to eat, and made sure we were involved in sports and extracurricular activities that kept us off the couch. Get with it, America. Be accountable for YOURSELF. Stop blaming politicians. Stop blaming restaurants. Look out for YOU.

    September 16, 2011 at 1:53 am |
    • Kel

      Well said.

      September 16, 2011 at 11:17 am |
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