Healthy Dining has announced the rollout of a research-based initiative, the "Healthy Dining School Wellness Rewards Program," designed to contribute to the health and well-being of America's children and families.

The program will raise money, through Healthy Dining's restaurant partners, to help schools fund playground and PE equipment, garden programs, nutrition education and other wellness initiatives. The ultimate goal is to expand this local project throughout the state of California, and eventually into a nationwide program encompassing thousands of schools and restaurants, with year-round opportunities for raising support for schools by dining out.

Healthy Dining was awarded funding for this Phase I research through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Small Business Innovative Research Program (SBIR). Five elementary schools in the Poway Unified School District (San Diego), representing approximately 3,000 families, have been selected as part of the first phase.

Six restaurant companies are participating in Phase I, running between March 1 and April 30, including Outback Steakhouse, Elephant Bar, Souplantation, Zpizza, Bernard'O Restaurant and Sombrero Mexican Restaurant.

Each of these restaurants participates in the Healthy Dining Program and is featured on HealthyDiningFinder.com; most also participate in the Kids LiveWell Program, which highlights healthier kid-friendly options on HealthyDiningFinder.com.

"Healthy Dining is honored to test and expand this innovative, first-of-its-kind restaurant-based wellness rewards program for schools. By participating, these schools and restaurants are underscoring their leadership and commitment to supporting healthy lifestyles for children and playing a major role in helping generate the much-needed resources for the schools' wellness and fitness programs," said Anita Jones-Mueller, MPH, president and founder of Healthy Dining.

The pilot program provides each student at the five Poway schools with a "School Wellness Rewards" card. During the 60-day test period, school families may dine out any time at any of the participating restaurants and present the "School Wellness Rewards" card for a 10 percent discount off their total bill. The restaurants will track the numbers of families participating and meals sold. Healthy Dining will then gather the data to evaluate and assess the potential for program expansion.

This is the sixth SBIR award that Healthy Dining has received through the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Read more about health and nutrition.

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