SAN JOSE, CA -- The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors has approved new nutrition standards for vending machines and cafeterias in county facilities that are being called the most comprehensive in California, and possibly the nation.
New guidelines seek to reduce the amount of sugar, fat and salt in foods and beverages sold through vending machines and served in cafeterias and at catered events in the county jailhouse, social services and hospitals, among other areas.
Vending machines in county facilities will be required to only offer food and beverages that meet the healthier standard. County vending machines are already required to contain 50% healthful items under Santa Clara's healthful food and beverage vending policy set in 2005. But candy, potato chips and sugary sodas currently offered will be replaced with items like trail mix, baked chips, water and iced tea.
In cafeterias, at least 50% of food items will be required to be considered "healthy." Staples like pizza and burgers will still be on cafeteria menus, but when possible, will be made with more healthful ingredients.
Catered events on county property must also comply with the new nutrition standards. And even places like the county fair will have to offer at least one healthy food and beverage item.
County leaders say what makes the new policy so groundbreaking is its expansion across so many venues.
Most of the standards will go into effect July 1. Rules applying to food and beverages served at meetings and events held at county facilities will kick in on July 1, 2013.
The nutritional standards are part of the county's obesity-prevention efforts, paid for by a $3.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 2010 that supports public health goals of reducing obesity, increasing physical activity and improving nutrition.
At least 25% of the children in Santa Clara, located at the southern end of the San Francisco Bay area, are considered overweight or obese. A minimum of two out of three adults in the county is considered either overweight or obese.