The National Restaurant Association announced that the number of restaurant companies participating in its "Kids LiveWell" program has more than tripled since the initiative's launch last July. Currently, 68 restaurant brands, including several notable bakery cafe chains, have committed to "Kids LiveWell," a first-of-its-kind voluntary program that provides parents with a growing selection of healthful children's menu choices when dining out. The initiative focuses on increasing consumption of fruit and vegetables, lean protein, whole grains and low-fat dairy.

"Parents are looking for healthful menu options for their children, and America's restaurants, from chain restaurants to smaller independent operators, have stepped up to the plate in an overwhelming display of support for children's nutrition," said Dawn Sweeney, President and CEO of the National Restaurant Association. "'Kids LiveWell' is just one example of how the restaurant industry is taking a proactive role in addressing our nation's healthy living challenges and providing more options for consumers."

In collaboration with Healthy Dining, the National Restaurant Association launched "Kids LiveWell" in 2011 with 19 inaugural brand leaders. To join the program, restaurants agree to offer and promote a selection of items that meet qualifying criteria based on leading health organizations' scientific recommendations, including the 2010 USDA Dietary Guidelines. Healthy Dining's team of registered dietitians works with restaurants to identify and validate the qualifying "Kids LiveWell" menu choices.

"We are so excited to work with the variety of restaurants all over the United States that are joining the 'Kids LiveWell' program, from large chains to neighborhood eateries, from quick serve to upscale. These restaurants are playing an important role in the health and well-being of our nation's youngest restaurant patrons by serving choices that nourish and help kids grow and thrive," said Anita Jones-Mueller, MPH, president and founder of Healthy Dining.

Parents can find "Kids LiveWell" menu items at and while on-the-go at The Association also has launched @KidsLiveWell on Twitter and established a Facebook page.

The following 21 restaurant brands recently joined "Kids LiveWell" and are featured on Bardenay, Black Bear Diner, Blimpie, Boudin SF, Cactus Jack's, Extreme Pita, Ground Round, Halfway Cafe, Ledo Pizza, Litestars, Papouli's Greek Grill, Pizza Fusion, Quaker Steak & Lube, Red Brick Pizza, Sonic, Souplantation, Sweet Tomatoes, Sushi Maki, Tony Roma's, Washington Athletic Club and Weathervane Seafoods.

Inaugural "Kids LiveWell" leaders include the following 19 brands: Au Bon Pain, Bonefish Grill, Burger King, Burgerville, Carrabba's Italian Grill, Chevys Fresh Mex, Chili's Grill & Bar, Corner Bakery Cafe, Cracker Barrel, Denny's, El Pollo Loco, Friendly's, IHOP, Joe's Crab Shack, Outback Steakhouse, Silver Diner, Sizzler, T-BONES Great American Eatery and zpizza.

Together, these 40 restaurants currently offer 165 "Kids LiveWell" menu items, including over 200 servings of fruits and vegetables.