The Kids Menu

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
The Kids Menu Movie Poster Image
Engaging, smart docu includes kids in food decision-making.
  • NR
  • 2016
  • 88 minutes

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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Promotes health and wellness, primarily by focusing on nutrition: providing kids with information, enabling hands-on involvement, and empowering kids to make smart decisions about food. Offers a look at all the positive programs going on in schools and communities around the U.S. Additional themes include curiosity, perseverance, and teamwork. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Spotlights teachers, parents, scientists, and activists who are raising awareness of nutritional needs, encouraging kids to participate in healthy eating choices, working to raise health and wellness consciousness, and, in some cases, making nutritious foods accessible to underserved communities. The men and women are all ethical, motivated by a desire to do the right thing, and have both realistic and optimistic goals. The kids interviewed and shown are in the process of becoming informed consumers who often provide healthy food to others.

Violence
Sex
Language
Consumerism

Positive consumer "product placement." Strongly advocates for informed, wise choices about eating. Promotes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and unprocessed foods. Many highly marketed, brand-name foods are shown (cereal, sodas) but as examples of what not to eat.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Kids Menu is an upbeat documentary about the many forward-thinking efforts ongoing throughout the U.S. to build kids' and families' awareness of the rewards of healthy eating. In contrast with the constant media onslaught of scares about childhood obesity, diabetes, and the like, this film takes a far different approach: profiling imaginative, successful garden-to-table programs; highly motivated teachers and scientists; and kids of all ages, cultures, and economic backgrounds as they become educated food consumers and eagerly begin to participate in their own eating adventures. Lots of positive messages and relevant facts are included, always connected to the kids and adult spokespeople in an entertaining way. Best for thoughtful middle-grade kids, tweens, and teens, and best of all for families to watch together.

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What's the story?

Producer-host Joe Cross takes an adventurous trip through the U.S. in THE KIDS MENU, looking at a profusion of active programs that work with kids and communities to upgrade their nutrition savvy. From Kate Corcoran, a teacher in one North Haven, Connecticut, fifth-grade classroom, to Encinitas, California, where the entire school district curriculum emphasizes health, wellness, nutrition, and all points in between, Cross interviews kids about what they're learning and watches as the miracle of hands-on participation combines with the digestion (pun intended) of information that will markedly affect their present and future health and wellness. Among the innovative ventures profiled are: a rooftop garden created by a White House chef, a community food program staffed by neighborhood kids, a kid-initiated boycott of their school's cafeteria lunch offerings, a cartoon-vegetable social media platform, and a hospital that issues prescription forms for vegetables and fruits, which are filled by local vendors. All are created and run by highly motivated, optimistic agents of change who believe passionately in what they're doing.

Is it any good?

This film is a welcome relief from doomsayers who cry "childhood obesity" and have no fixes. It's informative and confident that change is possible, and it offers positive, viable solutions. It's heartening to see the progress that has been made in raising awareness about dietary choices, health, and wellness. One of the mantras of The Kids Menu is, "If we don't make time for health, we'll have to make time for sickness," and watching a wide variety of kids who actually "get" that notion and care is promising. Kudos to Joe Cross for highlighting these programs, the staffers, and the kids. There's too much information and talk here for most younger kids, but middle grades and up should learn more than a little something and actually be entertained in the process. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can discuss the information in The Kids Menu that is relevant to your family. What did this film teach you about processed foods? Check out what is currently in your kitchen. Is there any room for improvement? 

  • Are you willing to follow the film's message, "Take a risk. Try it. You might like it"? Experiment with this idea: Pick one or two nutritious food choices you haven't been willing to try. Then see what happens!

  • Take a look at the sugar content on the labels of some of the items on your shelves. Are you surprised by the "wow" fact that one teaspoon equals four grams of sugar? Though fresh fruit is very sweet, learn about the differences between natural fruit sugar and the sugars added to processed foods. Notice how you feel after you've consumed a lot of sugar.

  • Plan your school or camp lunches for one week. What items that you usually include could you swap out for something more nutritious?

  • How does The Kids Menu promote curiosity, perseverance, and teamwork? Why are these important character strengths?

Movie details

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For kids who love to be healthy

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