FAMILIES could have a clear guide to eating out with healthier meal options for children in this city in a push to promote greater choice.
City of Ballarat is considering a pilot rewards program for cafes and restaurants to deliver a healthy children's menu.
Monash University dietetics masters students are working with the City to survey cafe and restaurant owners to test the potential for such a program, based on those already in play in other regions.
The Hydrant Food Hall owner and mum Elise Rowe supports the concept, saying customers were increasingly becoming more discerning about what cafes and restaurants were serving up.
Consumers are wanting more than a meal on a plate.Elise Rowe, The Hydrant Food Hall
"Consumers are wanting more than a meal on a plate," Ms Rowe said. "Customers are coming in wanting to know about our environmental impact, sustainability and they are interested in cafes that have won awards they recognise."
Ms Rowe has a background in consumer food science and said feedback on this research could, at the least, help business understanding not just on what is considered healthy, but also how this could fit into a cafe or restaurant's existing capability and menu.
Ms Rowe said customer choice was important but so too was cafe feasibility.
The students, on a seven-week work placement with City of Ballarat, have been looking to Mornington Peninsula's Best Bites as a potential model. The guide recognises the shire's winning cafes and restaurants and finalists with key markers on health, accessibility, sustainability and reduced food waste.
Monash student Christine Nikolopoulos said this study was not about asking places to completely change-up their menus, instead it could be achieving a 50 per cent healthy choice for children's meals.
Ms Rowe said this program could be a great way to make it easier for parents to feel confident to go out for a dining experience with their children.
"You can still walk away feeling comfortable that you have fed your children and been true to your family values," Ms Rowe said.
Ballarat restaurants and cafes wanting to get involved can contact City of Ballarat's health and well-being planner Caroline Amirtharajah on 5320 5500.
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