Kids’ meal packages in restaurants will need to offer water or milk as their default beverage rather than soda, according to an ordinance passed this week by the city of Davis, just outside of Sacramento.
Children’s health advocates called it the first ordinance of its kind in the nation.
The Davis City Council approved the measure Monday with a unanimous 5-0 vote. City council members called it an effort to address the growing rates of obesity and diabetes among Californians, particularly among the young.
“A lot of times there’s not a lot we can do locally against an onslaught of official government policy,” said council member Robb Davis. “This is something we can do to raise our hands and say, ‘We value the health of our community.’ It’s a limited thing. It’s an important thing. It won’t, I hope, be the last thing. Because the health of our kids is a community issue. I don’t see it as a civil liberties issue at all.”
Davis is a small city that calls itself the City of Bikes, and has a bicycle in its city logo. Resident Dorta Jensen referred to that moniker with her public comment.
“Not all the restaurants want to participate in this, and if even one is pushed around, that’s a problem for me,” Jensen said. “Make this voluntary, don’t make this an ordinance…. Because otherwise, it seems like Davis will go from the City of Bikes to becoming the City of Regulations.”
That didn’t resonate with Davis resident and single mom Jackie Richardson.
“I think what we’re talking about is choice, and I support you considering regulation that makes the healthy choice the easy choice,” Richardson said. “I do take my children out to eat. But I feel undermined as a parent when the beverage that comes with my kids’ meals is loaded with calories and non-nutritious. Offering milk and water is straight off the top the easiest thing we can do.”
The ordinance goes into effect Sept. 1.