President Bill Clinton delivered the keynote address to a packed house Sunday at the 93rd annual National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show in Chicago.
During the speech, Clinton lauded the restaurant industry for its recent changes in making children's meals more nutritious, specifically pointing out the NRA's partnership with Healthy Dining for the Kids LiveWell initiative. The Kids LiveWell program was launched last summer and has since quadrupled in size, with numerous brands announcing their commitment today.
"I came here to thank you for all that's being done through your initiative to help our kids get healthier. This is a 30-year problem with no single cause and no villain," Clinton said, adding that he "loves" the program because it involves a lot of different entities working together.
The former president also pointed out the collaborative example of the beverage industry. He said a few years ago, kids were getting 50 to 60 percent of their daily calories from beverages and so he asked the major players to work together to reduce their sugar and calories so they could still have these same consumers in the future.
"Four years later, there was an 88 percent reduction in the calories of the drinks that were shipped to our schools — 14,000 schools. The headlines are all about conflicts, but what works in the modern world is creative collaboration," Clinton said.
Clinton also touched upon the efforts many restaurants are putting forth to end hunger before talking about the continued economic crisis around the world.
"I spend my life trying to reduce inequality, reduce instability, reduce climate change. That is good economics. Our politics are behind our problems. We need to think about what works and that's cooperation," Clinton said.
Clinton ended his speech by telling the audience that it's a mistake to count America out.
"We're still younger than Europe, Japan, China. Youth matters," he said.
The 42nd President of the United States established the William J. Clinton Foundation with the mission to improve global health, strengthen economies, promote healthier childhoods and protect the environment by fostering partnerships among governments, businesses, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and private citizens to turn good intentions into measurable results. In the U.S., the Foundation is working to combat the alarming rise in childhood obesity through the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, and is helping individuals and families succeed and small businesses grow.
Alicia Kelso has been a professional journalist for 15 years. Her work with QSRweb.com and PizzaMarketplace.com has been featured in publications around the world, including Good Morning America, Voice of Russia radio, Consumerist.com and Franchise Asia magazine.