Rata Café named top kids’ menu winner

A Wellington café has scooped the top award for best kids’ menu in New Zealand, after revamping its menu to meet the Heart Foundation’s Kids’ Choice criteria.

Kids eating healthy food

Rata café was presented with the award in the 2016 Munch Food Awards which judges the best and worst in kids’ food-related products and marketing.

The Heart Foundation launched its Kids’ Choice programme earlier this year.  The free initiative supports cafes, restaurants and bars by endorsing individual kids’ dishes or full menus that meet specific nutrition criteria.

Rata Catering Manager Mike Dennis said he uses fresh, healthy, free-range and organic foods in the café menu.

“It made sense to extend that and offer healthy options to kids too,” Mike said.

“Once we had made that decision, the Kids’ Choice team at the Heart Foundation helped us rework the menu so all our kids’ dishes now meet the organisation’s nutrition criteria.

“We’re very proud of the new menu and the feedback from customers has been overwhelmingly positive. Winning the Munch Award for Best Kids’ Menu is external endorsement of what we’ve achieved. Hopefully it will also encourage more cafés to think about younger diners and provide healthier options for them too."

Healthier kids' menus 

Heart Foundation Food and Nutrition Manager Dave Monro said more needs to be done to improve kids’ menus throughout New Zealand as Rata Café has done.

“What we’re seeing is a lot of fried foods, high-sugar beverages and very few vegetables being offered to children when they’re dining out with their parents,” Monro said.

“It’s true that parents and kids often want a treat when they’re eating out as a family, but that doesn’t mean unhealthy items should be dominating kids’ menus.

“By turning the traditional kids’ menu on its head and offering more healthy choices and less of the deep fried options, chefs and restauranteurs will be investing in their future customers."

Monro said that when parents and caregivers see a lack of healthy options for children on the menu, they should be challenging food services to step up their game.

The Kids’ Choice programme offers food services that serve healthier foods to children endorsement in the form of menu branding, promotion and assistance in designing suitable meals.