California city will require healthier items at supermarket checkout aisles

Trader Joe's displays


Perris, CA follows Berkeley in excluding certain items from checkout

The California city of Perris will become the second municipality in the country to pass an ordinance improving the nutritional quality of the foods and beverages sold at supermarket check-out aisles. The City Council of the nearly 80,000-person city unanimously passed the policy last night and will require grocery stores in the city such as WinCo Foods, Walmart, and Dollar General to swap out soda, chips, and cookies at check-out aisles with healthier alternatives such as fruit, nuts, seeds, seltzer, and other low- or no-calorie drinks.

The city of Berkeley passed a similar ordinance in 2020, and it is now in effect. The Perris law goes into effect on July 1.

“The checkout aisle is the supermarket equivalent of waterfront property—and food manufacturers typically pay a premium to ensure that soda, chips, and candy bars are visible there,” said Center for Science in the Public Interest senior policy associate Karen Gardner. “This move will make it easier for consumers to avoid both marketing and impulse purchases of drinks and snacks that are high in sugar and salt. We hope more communities follow suit and pass similar policies.”

The campaign to adopt the measure was led by local community organizations like Love4Life and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Inland Valley, alongside the statewide advocacy group Public Health Advocates, with support from CSPI. Mayor Michael Vargas championed this policy, with strong support from Councilmember and Mayor Pro Tem Marisela Nava. Additionally, the City of Perris’ Youth Advisory Council played a lead role in obtaining support from the broader community.

 “We’re thrilled that City Council listened to the sweeping call from parents and youth alike in the community. We believe that this policy will be another step in the right direction for improved health and well-being in the City of Perris,” said Mónica Acevedo Guerrero, program manager for Public Health Advocates.

 “As a youth-serving organization we are excited to see healthier options at check out to help create a brighter and healthier future in Perris for our youth,” said Julia Burch, assistant director of development for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Inland Valley.

Pictured above: Images of a Trader Joe's checkout aisle in Berkeley taken before and after that city's ordinance went into effect.