MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. — Restaurants in Montgomery County will be required by law to provide at least one healthy meal option for children starting Wednesday.
Bill 1-22 passed in March 2022 and requires children's meals be offered by food service facilities to include certain healthy food and beverage options.
As part of the first phase of the bill, restaurants in Montgomery County will be required to provide a healthy beverage option to their youngest customers. The second phase will require a healthy meal option six months later.
Legislators define a "children's meal" in the bill as a means of a combination of food items or a combination of food items and a drink that a restaurant sells as a unit or on a children's menu or otherwise offers eaten primarily by children.
Restaurants will have several options to offer children, including water or sparkling water that has no favors or carbonation, eight ounces of unflavored 1% milk, or a non-dairy equivalent, 100% fruit or vegetable juice. None of the drink options are allowed to have added natural or artificial sweeteners.
According to the bill, a healthy meal option must adhere to several requirements. The meal must contain no more than:
- 600 Calories
- 700 Milligrams of sodium
- 35% Of calories from total sugars
- 35% Of calories from fat
- 10% Of calories from saturated fat
- 0.5 Grams of trans fat
“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 Councilmember Rice, who serves as chair of the Council’s Education Committee and as a member of the Health and Human Services Committee after the bill passed in 2022. “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.”
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