MoCo Restaurants Must Offer Healthy Meal and Healthy Drink Options for Children Beginning This Friday, September 15

Last March, Bill No. 1-22 Healthy Meals for Children, which requires restaurants in Montgomery County that offer a children’s meal to provide a healthy option (meal and drink) for their youngest customers, was passed. The first phase (healthy beverage option) went into effect in March, and the second phase (healthy meal option) goes into effect this Friday, September 15. This is the first bill of this nature to be fully implemented in the country. It should be noted that while a healthy option must be presented, customers are not limited in selecting any menu item of their choice.

According to the bill, the healthy meals must be under 600 calories and include the following:

“Childhood obesity remains a longstanding problem in our nation and the rate continues to climb impacting our children’s health and quality of life. Especially in a time when our busy lifestyles have more families eating out, it is imperative that as a County we encourage  healthy options in our children’s meals,” said former Councilmember Rice after the bill was initially passed. “I applaud the many restaurants, large and small, in our community that are already providing healthier selections. This bill lays out a minimum threshold over an extended period to ensure that our children have a healthier beverage and meal option available to them, all in order to promote more healthful eating habits throughout their lives.”

There will be a press conference held this Thursday, September 14, at the Silver Diner in Rockville with former Councilmember Craig Rice and Councilmember Gabe Albornoz, as well as representatives from the American Heart Association and the Montgomery County NAACP. Details below:

WHO: Gabe Albornoz, Montgomery County Council health committee chair Montgomery County parents and children
Yolandra Hancock, MD, MPH, an American Heart Association board member and pediatrician
Linda Plummer, president Montgomery County NAACP
Craig Rice, former Montgomery County councilmember
Robin Williams, Maryland representative and member NAACP national board of directors
Ype Von Hengst, Silver Diner executive chef

WHAT: Legislative champions and supporting organizations will hold a press conference to celebrate the full implementation of Montgomery County legislation, “Healthy Meals for Children” Bill. (Bill 1-22). The innovative legislation requires restaurants offering children’s meals on the menu to include certain healthy food and beverage options. While the bill passed in March 2022, full implementation of beverages and food will take place starting September 15, 2023. This is the first bill of this nature to be fully implemented in the nation.

Sponsors of the bill included former Montgomery County Councilmember Craig Rice as the lead sponsor with co-sponsors Councilmembers Albornoz, Jawando, Navarro and Hucker. Community supporters included Montgomery County NAACP, the American Heart Association and Center for Science in the Public Interest, among many more.

The state of Maryland has been at the forefront of innovative legislation around kids’ meals.  Prince George’s County was the first in the nation to pass a similar law in 2020. Montgomery County soon followed and is now the first in the nation to fully implement the legislation. Families will still be able to choose any option on the menu, but, children will now have healthy food and drink options promoted on menus more visibly to make the healthy choice an easier choice

WHEN:  Thursday, Sept. 14, 2023,  11 a.m.

WHERE: Silver Diner, 12276 Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD., 20852

Add’l.:    Silver Diner Executive Chef Ype Von Hengst has won numerous national awards for its healthy kids menu that removed French fries, hash browns and soda from its children’s menu more than 10 years ago after children expressed interest in healthy sides (strawberries) and drinks (milk, juice, water.) Sales soared. Tufts University used Silver Diner as a national case study that was published in the Journal of Obesity in 2015.

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