Burgers and fries and fried chicken are popular fast-food meals; in Prince George’s County, there’s an effort to encourage restaurants to offer healthier food choices.
The county council passed the Healthy Restaurant Bill on Tuesday in a 9-0-1 vote. It would provide incentives to restaurants, such as zero-interest loans, for making their menus at least 40% healthy, including one plant-based meal. The incentives would also include the county promoting healthy restaurants during Restaurant Week.
“One of the number one killers in Prince George’s County really isn’t gun violence, it’s food,” Council vice chair Wala Blegay said. “It’s what we eat. It’s heart diseases, diabetes. I’m pre-diabetic … a lot of people are suffering from various diseases, and we really need to change our eating.”
Blegay said the county has very limited healthy restaurant options, and residents are demanding better healthy choices.
“So let’s give these business owners a little something to help them give this option to the community,” Blegay said.
Despite the overwhelmingly favorable vote, the bill passed without the necessary funding to implement it. The measure is opposed by County Executive Angela Alsobrooks.
“We believe the legislation passed today is not the most effective way to address these issues and will not result in an increase in access to healthy foods,” said Anthony McAuliffe, a spokesman for Alsobrooks.
Blegay said the people want healthy restaurant choices, and she’ll keep pressing the case.
“The community is overwhelmingly supportive. So now we just need to get the funding,” said Blegay, who estimated the funding cost at $2 million.