New Law Promotes Access to Healthy Foods
October 2, 2014
On September 25 Governor Jerry Brown helped solidify California’s commitment to ensuring access to healthy foods when he signed Senate Bill 912 into law. Authored by Senator Holly J. Mitchell (D-Culver City), the bill is co-sponsored by the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network (CPEHN), the California Center for Health Policy Advocacy (CCPHA), and the American Heart Association.
“California is facing an obesity epidemic that demands we do everything we can to ensure access to healthier food options,” Senator Mitchell said. “For most of us the workplace is our home away from home, so state employees will always know that nutritional choices are available onsite and within sight, both for themselves and the public we serve.”
More than half of adults and teens in the state are classified as overweight or obese. Lost productivity and medical care costs related to obesity and physical inactivity are estimated to cost California $52 billion annually. By promoting the availability of healthy foods at work and in its public buildings, the state continues to set an example for ways to reverse these alarming trends.
Existing law requires one-third of foods and beverages sold in vending machines on state property to meet basic nutritional standards. This requirement was set to expire in 2015. SB 912 removes the sunset and makes the standards permanent.
“California has long been a leader in the effort to increase access to healthy foods,” said Elizabeth Velten, State and National Policy Coordinator at CCPHA. “We had already taken the lead when the vending machine policy was adopted. It was time to ensure those requirements remain in place.”
The new law also has the potential to positively impact California’s communities of color. “Our communities experience health conditions like diabetes and obesity at disproportionately higher rates,” said Sarah de Guia, executive director at CPEHN. “Many people live in areas where unhealthy foods are more accessible than healthier options. With this law, California is modeling the importance of healthy food options. This is a good starting point to improve access to healthier foods throughout all communities.”