Kids in Prince George’s County, Maryland are about to get healthier meals and drinks when they order from kids’ meals menus in the county.
On the afternoon of November 17, 2020, the Prince George’s County Council unanimously approved legislation that will make it easier for families and their children to choose healthier food and drink options when ordering from kids’ menus at county restaurants. The Prince George’s County Healthy Kids’ Meals Bill (CB-071) now awaits a signature from County Executive Angela Alsobrooks to be enacted into law.
“Policies like this can help improve outcomes and increase the opportunity to live a longer, healthier life,” said Dr. Federico Asch, president of the board of directors for the American Heart Association, Greater Washington Region and a cardiologist at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. “By passing this comprehensive bill, Prince George’s County is a national leader in promoting equitable health policy.”
The legislation is the first of its kind in the country to include healthier comprehensive options for both food and drinks on children’s menu items. It will make water, milk and 100% fruit or vegetable juice the default beverage options for all kids’ meals served at Prince George’s County restaurants. It will also ensure the food options in kids’ meals promote health by designating limits on calories, sugar, salt and fat for items on their kids’ menus. Families would still be able to order other beverage and food items upon request.
“The majority of kids’ menu items are purchased for children under the age of 12, a critical time in a child’s development of taste preferences,” said Shawn McIntosh, the executive director of Sugar Free Kids Maryland. “This bill passage helps make the healthy option the easy choice. Our goal at Sugar Free Kids Maryland is simple – we want all kids to live long, healthy, productive lives.”
Councilmember Sydney J. Harrison sponsored the legislation, which was supported by a diverse coalition led by Sugar Free Kids Maryland, the Prince George’s Food Equity Council, the American Heart Association and Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). Voices for Healthy Kids provided some of the much-needed funding and technical assistance to make this a policy success.
“Together, we’ve scored a win for the community, created a model for other cities and states, and signaled to the restaurant industry that it’s time to stop pushing soda and unhealthy meals on little kids,” said CSPI policy associate Sara Ribakove.
Follow this developing story online by using the hashtag #HealthyKidsPGC.