November 17, 2020

Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks Signs Healthy Kids’ Meals Bill

Upper Marlboro, Md. – On Nov. 24, Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks signed legislation that will make it easier for families and their children to choose healthier food and drink options, when ordering kids’ meals at county restaurants. The Prince George’s County Healthy Kids’ Meals Bill (CB-071) was unanimously passed by the County Council (11 votes) on Nov. 17.

The legislation is the first of its kind in the country to include healthier comprehensive options for both food and drinks. It will make water, milk and 100% fruit or vegetable juice default beverage options for all kids’ meals served at Prince George’s County restaurants. It will also ensure that food options in kids’ meals limit calories, sugar, salt and fat. Families would still be able to order other beverage items upon request. The bill will improve health for county children by making the healthy option the easy choice.

Councilmember Sydney J. Harrison is the sponsor of the legislation, which is supported by a diverse coalition, led by Sugar Free Kids Maryland, the Prince George’s Food Equity Council, American Heart Association and the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI).

“Today, the Prince George’s County Council adopted Council Bill -071-2020, legislation known as the “Healthy Kids Meal Bill,” far-reaching legislation to provide healthy food options for young people in the immediate community,” said Harrison. “As the bill’s sponsor, Vice Chair of the Council’s Health, Human Services committee and a member of this legislative body committed to ‘Health in All Policies,’ I want to thank my council colleagues and staff for their support and assistance with the passage of this groundbreaking legislation that moves us closer to a healthier Prince George’s County. I also want to thank coalition partners Sugar Free Kids Maryland, the Prince George’s Food Equity Council and the American Heart Association for vigorously supporting this bill, and the speakers who testified in favor of the bill for their engagement in our legislative process. I look forward to continuing our work with the restaurant industry and business community as part of our shared commitment to promote a culture of health and wellness in Prince George’s County, especially as we all continue to respond to the devasting impacts of COVID-19 in our communities.”

The bill was co-sponsored by Councilmembers Monique Anderson-Walker, Derrick Leon Davis, Thomas E. Dernoga, Mel Franklin, Dannielle M. Glaros, Calvin S. Hawkins II, Rodney C. Streeter, Deni Taveras and Todd M. Turner.

“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.

The children of Prince George’s County are becoming more at risk for developing chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease at alarming rates. The major contributing factor to these problems is the overconsumption of sugary drinks and unhealthy foods. These preexisting conditions are now putting people at higher risk of becoming severely ill after contracting COVID-19.

“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.”

Advocates are using the hashtag #HealthyKidsPGC to promote the legislation.