Statement of CSPI vice president for nutrition Margo G. Wootan
California’s legislature last night passed the nation’s first statewide healthy kids’ meal bill. The legislation ensures that healthier beverages like water and milk are the default drinks with all restaurant children’s meals, rather than soda or other sugary drinks. While parents may still request a different beverage for their kids, they will no longer have the most unhealthful drinks pushed on their children as the default.
Nine California jurisdictions, including San Francisco, have already passed healthy kids’ meal policies, and the idea is spreading rapidly to other cities and states, including Baltimore, Louisville, and Lafayette, Colorado. New York City, Hawaii, and Vermont are poised to pass similar bills. At the same time, several of the largest restaurant chains have dropped soda from their kids’ menus—although three-quarters of the top 50 chains have yet to do so.
Just two months ago, the beverage industry extorted California lawmakers into passing legislation that blocks communities from enacting any new local soda taxes for the next 12 years. Today’s vote demonstrates that the movement to address sugary drink consumption and protect public health marches forward. Advocates and policymakers are not intimidated by the beverage industry’s tactics and remain committed to reducing the harms from sugary drinks.
We thank Senator Bill Monning and Public Health Advocates for their unwavering commitment to children’s health, and we urge Governor Jerry Brown to sign the legislation as soon as possible.