COPC Action Alert — Healthy Vending Guidelines For King County

Jun 10, 2011 by

Background: As you may know, we have had the issue of “governmental food procurement” on our policy agenda for this past fiscal year. We developed statewide legislation and have begun real conversations with key state agencies regarding this topic area. We also placed specific budget proviso language in the final state budget for four targeted agencies: Departments of Health, Corrections, Social & Health Services, and Services for the Blind.

At a local level, the King County Board of Health, on April 21, 2011, passed Guideline and Recommendation 11-02, establishing regarding “healthy vending guidelines” – their initial effort to tackle the procurement issue on their own turf. While their Board of Health cannot compel any governmental bodies to officially comply with these guidelines, it does provide clear standards and also underscores the importance of government accountability for the food it provides to its employees and citizens. The King County Council then took up the issue and there is now a proposal for the King County Council to pass “a motion requesting the executive to adopt standards for vending machines located in King County facilities that are consistent with board of health guidelines and recommendations” (see specific language here).

Next Steps in the Process: The motion has been referred to the Law, Justice, Health and Human Services Committee chaired by Councilman Bob Ferguson. This committee will discuss the motion at their meeting on Tuesday, June 14 at 1:30 pm. No public testimony will be taken at this committee meeting so email correspondence is the best route at this juncture.
What You Can Do:
Write your own email to the Law, Justice, Health and Human Services Committee members, and advance the key messages found below:

GOAL

  • Provide a “level playing field” for consumers who want choice when approaching that vending machine

*Many of us eat up to 50% of our meals outside the home

RATIONALE

  • Vending machines are a common source of snacks, but are one of the few places where you cannot commonly and easily currently purchase healthy food.
  • We know that obesity and poor nutrition are serious problems in King County
   *Over half of adults and almost a third of youth are overweight or obese

*Less than one third of adults and youth report consuming enough fruits and vegetables daily and a third of  youth report consuming one or more soda daily

*The government should model healthy and local purchase of foods for those populations it feeds

* Think about it: on one hand, the government is helping to educate the population about the importance of eating better and moving more while on the other hand the government provides food to many people (including its own employees and the public) that may or may not be subject to any nutritional standards

Email contact information for Committee members (best by COB, Monday, June 13):

bob.ferguson@kingcounty.gov

larry.gossett@kingcounty.gov

kathy.lambert@kingcounty.gov

joe.mcdermott@kingcounty.gov

reagan.dunn@kingcounty.gov

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