(AUSTIN, TX) – TRAEF is pleased to announce its partnership with the Medical City Children’s Hospital Kids Fit Menu!® program. The collaboration combines the TRAEF’s restaurant industry workforce focus and award-winning ProStart program with Medical City Children’s Hospital and its expert nutritionists and community health initiatives. Families are increasingly looking for kids menu options that are nutritious and taste good. Working together, students training in culinary arts will collaborate with professional dietitians and restaurants to create new and exciting dishes.
Texas ProStart, the flagship workforce development program for the TRAEF, is a high school culinary and management curriculum taught to more than 15,000 students in 175 high schools across the state. The TRAEF and Kids Fit Menu!® partnership integrates the ProStart experience, centering around two Kids Fit Menu!® initiatives:
- Kids Fit Menu!® Invitational
Small groups of ProStart students compete to get their dish on the menu of a participating restaurant. Each team is paired with a restaurant and a Medical City Children’s Hospital dietitian to create a kids menu item that adheres to established nutritional guidelines. The food used must already exist in the restaurant’s inventory and students are responsible for creating the recipe and calculating the nutritional facts of the meal.
- Kids Fit Menu!® Summer Mentorship
Graduating seniors with plans to attend culinary school are matched with a restaurant and a Medical City Children’s Hospital dietitian for an 8-day, work-based training opportunity. The goal of this internship is to create a healthy dish that meets the restaurant’s concept and established nutrition criteria. ProStart seniors who have already participated in the Kids Fit Menu!® Invitational are eligible for the summer mentorship.
Scholarships for winning and participating students are available through both initiatives.
“Teaching students to tie their learning in the culinary classroom to tackling the issue of child nutrition is a phenomenal opportunity for our Texas ProStart youth,” said Dr. Emily Williams Knight, Ed.D., CEO of the Texas Restaurant Association and TRAEF. “Through our restaurant membership, we are excited to lead the expansion of the Kids Fit Menu!® program from Dallas to a state wide sponsored initiative. This expansion will provide healthy meals to more families and additional opportunities for ProStart students to participate and earn scholarships for college.”
Since the program’s inception, the following restaurants have worked with the Kids Fit Menu!® program: Asian Mint, Café Brazil, Cotton Patch Café, Cristina’s Fine Mexican Restaurant, Dream Café, El Fenix, Fish City Grill, Genghis Grill, Grub Kitchen and Bar, la Madeline, Matt’s Tex Mex, Original Pancake House DFW, Snuffer’s Restaurant and Bar, and Village Burger Bar.
Examples of winning menu items created by Texas ProStart students include an apple cinnamon crepe for la Madeline from students at Northside High School in Ft. Worth and chicken soft tacos for El Fenix created by students of Irving High School. More menu items can be seen at https://kids-teaching-kids.com/kids-fit-menu/
“The vision of this collaboration is to provide healthier restaurant options for families through student education, mentorship and operational experiences,” says Ryan Eason, Director of Community Engagement at Medical City Healthcare. “Improved nutrition leads to a healthier community, further enhancing our system’s overarching mission to the care and improvement of human life.”
Currently there are 13 restaurant brands with 283 locations participating. With growing awareness surrounding child nutrition, providing healthy restaurant options increasingly drives where families are choosing to eat. Restaurants offering Kids Fit Menu!® items appeal to this audience and the TRAEF and Medical City Children’s Hospital look forward to expanding the program’s impact throughout Texas.
About the Texas Restaurant Association
The Texas Restaurant Association was formed in 1937 to serve as the advocate in Texas and the indispensable resource for the foodservice industry. Today, as a leading business association, TRA represents the state’s $66 billion restaurant industry, which is comprised of more than 48,000 locations and a workforce of 1.3 million employees. Along with the Texas Restaurant Association Education Foundation, the Association represents, educates and promotes the growing industry. www.txrestaurant.org
About Medical City Children’s Hospital
Medical City Children’s Hospital is a 220-bed comprehensive, award-winning pediatric health care facility in Dallas, Texas, established in 1996. World-class pediatric specialties include congenital heart surgery, hematology and oncology, craniofacial surgery, kidney transplant, neurosurgery, orthopedics and fetal surgery. Medical City Children’s Hospital offers a Level IV NICU, the highest level of neonatal care available in Dallas. Medical City Children’s Hospital has been recognized by The Joint Commission in 2015 as a top performer on key quality measures and was named a top 10 Best Hospital in Texas by U.S. News and World Report in 2019. Medical City Children’s Hospital is part of Medical City Healthcare.