County Council Passes Bill that Will Require Restaurants and Food Service Facilities in MoCo to Provide at Least One Healthy Meal Option for Children

by Patrick Herron

During yesterday’s Montgomery County Council meeting, the council passed Bill 1-22, which will require all food service facilities in Montgomery County that offer a children’s meal to also offer at least one healthy children’s meal and beverage option. The bill was introduced by Councilmember Craig Rice and co-sponsored by Council President Gabe Albornoz and Councilmembers Will Jawando and Nancy Navarro.

The bill was enacted by a vote of 8-1, with Councilmember Friedson voting against the legislation.

The legislation requires within 1 year after it is signed into law that any food service facility that offers a children’s meal with a beverage must offer a default beverage that has no added natural or artificial sweeteners and meets certain nutritional standards. The next phase occurs 18 months after the legislation is signed into law and requires restaurants that offer a children’s meal to offer a healthy option that adheres to certain nutritional standards.  While a healthy option must be presented, customers are not limited in selecting any menu item of their choice.

The bill would not prohibit customers from selecting other options on the menu.

The “healthy children’s meal” must consist of two or more of the following:

  • ½ cup or more of unfried fruit or unfried vegetables, excluding juice, condiments, or spreads;
  • a whole grain product that:
    – contains, by weight, 51% or more of whole grain ingredients; or
    – lists whole grain as the first ingredient in its ingredient list required by the U.S. Food and Drug                                   Administration; or
  • A lean protein consisting of:
    – one ounce or more of meat, seafood, nuts, seeds, beans, or peas;
    – one egg;
    – ½ cup of nonfat or 1% milk or low-fat yogurt, or 1 ounce of reduced fat cheese; or
    – a plant-based, nondairy alternative that:

        • contains the same amount of protein as, or more protein than, an item under
          this paragraph; and is fortified with calcium and Vitamin D.

The bill requires that any food service facility that offers for sale a children’s meal with a beverage must offer as the default beverage one or more of the following options:

  • water, with no added natural or artificial sweeteners, flavors or carbonation;
  • 8 ounces or less of unflavored nonfat or 1% milk, or a non-dairy equivalent with no added natural or artificial sweeteners; or
  • 6 ounces or less of 100% fruit or vegetable juice, or a combination of 100% fruit and vegetable juice, with no added natural or artificial sweeteners.


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