L.A. City Parks and Libraries May Be Rethinking Their DrinksJuly 9, 2012
| Library and park facilities in the City of Los Angeles could be the next to outlaw sodas in vending machines under a pending City Council motion supported by First 5 LA.
In a letter to City Councilmember Mitchell Englander, the San Fernando Valley politician who authored the motion, First 5 LA Interim Chief Executive Officer Craig Steele called the measure "forward thinking action" that is an important step in improving the health of children and fighting childhood obesity.
Englander's motion, which will be considered within the next month or two, directs the city Library and Recreation and Parks departments to report recommendations for phasing out and eliminating the sale of sodas in all vending machines in their facilities. "As a city, we need to lead by example by making soda unavailable in our recreation and library facilities," Englander's motion states. "Children cannot be blamed for poor nutritional choices, but as adults, we must limit those choices in city facilities known for children and teenage recreation....
"The elimination of sodas in (Recreation and Parks) vending machines will not put an end to childhood obesity, but it is a small step in educating the public about healthier food and beverage choices," the motion says.
Englander said in published reports that he wrote the motion after his daughter had difficulty buying drinks other than soda at a local park.
If passed, Los Angeles would become another in a growing list of municipalities banning sugar-sweetened drinks at government owned and run facilities, including South El Monte, El Monte and Long Beach. First 5 LA and its partners are working to educate the public about the dangers of these beverages to children's health and make policies that address these concerns, like recommending a tax on soda sales.
In Los Angeles County, 29 percent of children 2 and younger are drinking soda daily, according to data collected by PHFE Women, Infant and Children, a nutrition program for low-income pregnant women or families with young children. With the number of overweight and obese children continuing to increase, eliminating sugary drinks - such as a 12 ounce soda containing 10 teaspoons of sugar - is a small change that First 5 LA is hoping families make during its Rethink Your Drink campaign this summer.
For more information or questions, please contact First 5 LA Government Affairs Manager Tessa Charnofsky at 213-482-7555 or TCharnofsky@First5LA.org.
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