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Lawmakers may demand healthier menu in state buildings

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on Feb. 16, 2011 at 11:59 am |
February 16, 2011 1:23 pm
Some of the fare at the Dome Deli.

In the Legislative Building’s Dome Deli, lawmakers, lobbyists and state employees can grab a piece of fruit or a salad. But for long days and late nights, some of them are more likely to go straight to the cafeteria’s other choices: Cheetos, Butterfingers, Coca-Cola or Full Throttle energy drinks.

Some of those items could disappear from the shelves of state facilities under House Bill 1801.

With more than 25 percent of the state’s adults now obese, Rep. Laurie Jinkins, a Tacoma public health administrator, wants state buildings to stock healthier food. Schools have made progress, and food bought for employees and people housed in state institutions needs to catch up, she says.

Soda pop and other sugary drinks, for example, could amount to no more than one-fifth of all beverages sold by vendors or vending machines under rules the bill would phase in.

“The state should be actually be purchasing food that has a nutritional value,” Jinkins said. “Soda pop has no nutritional value whatsoever. None. What’s the purpose of doing that, or serving that?”

Other standards under the bill:

  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy products only.
  • Lean meats with no more than 10 percent fat — and no skin on the poultry.
  • Priority given to Washington-caught fish.
  • Limited fried foods and added sugars.
  • Smaller portion sizes.
  • No more than 200 calories per serving in snacks, with no trans fats and no more than 10 percent saturated fats.

Some state vendors complained during a hearing this week they would lose money because fewer people would buy their food. The Department of Services for the Blind helps legally-blind adults run food businesses in state buildings and other government buildings.

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