Encouraging Healthier Eating: CB-046-2023, the Healthy Restaurant Program (PGC Council)
The Prince George's County Council's Government Operations and Fiscal Policy Committee recently considered CB-046-2023, the Healthy Restaurant Program. This bill seeks to encourage and expand healthier eating restaurant options within the County through free promotions and other economic incentives and to encourage County agencies to work cooperatively with restaurant owners to promote healthier food options.
What It Would Do
The Healthy Restaurant Program aims to address the negative health impacts of restaurant food in various ways. By establishing a healthy restaurant program, local governments would be able to support and give incentives to restaurant owners who are willing to offer healthier foods. For restaurant owners to be eligible, they have to meet certain requirements. These conditions include restaurants providing a menu of options in which 40% of their total entrees are deemed healthy by the PGC Health Action Coalition and include one healthy plant-based meal.
Additionally, restaurants must participate in periodic program promotions and celebrations such as County-sponsored "Restaurant Weeks" and other such events. Finally, restaurants must renew their membership every two years on the condition that the restaurant continues to satisfy the above requirements. In return, the Economic Development Corporation would provide zero-interest loans for restaurants certified under the program and promote local businesses.
When the Government Operations and Fiscal Policy Committee met to discuss The Healthy Restaurant Program, all Committee members spoke in favor of the bill. Several individuals, including representatives from the County Executive's Office, expressed opposition to the bill, citing concerns about mandates and financial burdens. The Budget and Policy Analyst reported that the program could have a negative fiscal impact on the county but could positively affect restaurant patrons and the overall dining experience. Amendments were also proposed to require restaurants to have at least 30% healthy and plant-based food options. Eventually. the Committee approved the amendment and voted CB-046-2023 out favorable as amended, 3-0.
Why It's Important?
In a press statement, Prince George County Council Vice Chair Blegay cited the need for more healthy choices in local restaurants. She remarked that there are currently very few healthy eating options in Prince George's County, with an abundance of fast-food establishments in shopping centers. This lack of healthy food options can contribute to health problems like diabetes and heart disease. This bill would encourage businesses to provide healthier food options for citizens, which could positively impact public health. Studies have shown that fast food is often high in calories, fat, and sugar but low in nutrients and fiber. Consuming fast food frequently may raise the risk of obesity, heart attack, and other health issues.
Approximately one in three adults in the United States is dealing with pre-diabetes, which puts them at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. One of the main factors contributing to pre-diabetes is being overweight or obese. Unfortunately, the situation is quite concerning, as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that around 70% of adults in Prince George's County and the entire country are considered overweight.
Bill sponsors and Next Steps
CB-046-2023 was introduced and sponsored by Council members Blegay, Oriadha, and Olson. If there are any questions or concerns about this bill, please contact the Councilmembers’ offices. This bill is in its "Third Reading" and is ready for its final vote, which has not been scheduled as of today.
Bill text of CB-046-2023, the Healthy Restaurant Program