District of Columbia Sets Nutrition Standards for Vending, Cafeterias on D.C. Public Property

July 16, 2014

The District of Columbia will soon require that at least half of the foods and beverages sold through vending machines and elsewhere on D.C. property meet healthy nutrition standards. The requirement was included as part of the D.C. budget, which was passed by the D.C. Council after overriding a veto by Mayor Vincent C. Gray. It sets nutrition standards for the food and drink sold in vending machines, retail establishments, and at meetings and events in D.C. owned and operated buildings and grounds. The standards, modeled on existing federal guidelines, encourage the availability of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-calorie beverages, water and other healthy choices. The budget also included a provision requiring nutrition and physical activity standards for licensed childcare facilities in D.C.

"Employees of the District of Columbia and visitors to its public facilities deserve access to healthful foods and drinks, and this legislation will expand people's choices in the right direction," said Katie Bishop, nutrition policy associate at the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Vending machines on D.C. property, such as this one in the John A. Wilson Building, which houses the Mayor and City Council, will have to contain more healthful choices under the new law.

Councilmembers Mary Cheh and Kenyan R. McDuffie were the main sponsors behind the healthy food on public property language included in the budget.

Improving the nutritional quality of foods and drinks available in public places is an increasingly important objective of CSPI and other health groups working to reduce obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other health problems. At least 70 states and localities have established some nutrition standards for such food and beverages. Some, like New York City, have gone even farther than D.C. and require 100 percent of beverages and foods sold on government property to be healthier choices. Since 2012, the D.C. government has required 100 percent of foods and beverages available in public parks to be healthful choices.


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