Montgomery County, MD took a first step in serving kids better by making healthier dining choices easier. On March 1, the County Council passed healthy kids meals legislation by an 8-1 vote. While the policy ensures healthier food and beverages for kids’ meals at county restaurants, it still allows adults to purchase any items for the kids in their care.
The new law, which will take effect in 2023, makes healthier drinks like water, 100% fruit juice, or milk the automatic options on kids’ menus and ensures that at least one kids’ meal follows nationally recommended nutrition standards, limiting calories, sugar, sodium, and fat, and making sure fruit and veggies are included in the meal.
While the passage of the bill is a win for Montgomery County families, our work is not done to create the healthiest environment possible for all children to have healthy options when dining out. While thankful to the County Council, The American Heart Association is disappointed in the Council’s decision to weaken some of the nutrition standards in the law. These changes deviate from science-based recommendations that give kids the best chance for long, healthy lives. We call on the Council to strengthen these standards to align with national recommendations in the future.
“I commend the Montgomery County Council for taking a first step to expand access to nutritious options on kids’ menus, but more can and must be done to ensure our children reach their full potential,” Dr. Yolandra Hancock, an American Heart Association Greater Washington Region Board member and pediatrician advocating for the bill said. “The health of our children, not the interests of the food and beverage industry, should always come first, and we must continue to advocate for policies that help all kids to live healthier lives.”
With the enactment of this policy, Montgomery County follows neighboring Prince George’s County, which became the first place in the country to establish compressive healthy kids meals for kids in 2020.
We thank lead sponsors Councilmembers Craig Rice, Gabe Albornoz, and the County Council for taking a first step to make each day healthier for all kids in Montgomery County. But we can and must do more!