Council draws fire with healthy eating resolution

Business owners, Tea Party and locals oppose
By: Joyia Emard, Loomis News Editor
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A Loomis Town Council proposed resolution on healthy eating drew a slew of criticism last week. While everyone attending the March 13 council meeting seemed to support healthy eating, what irked commenters was government trying to tell them what to do. Tea Party members, business owners and concerned citizens all told council they were opposed to the resolution, prepared by the League of Cities for their Healthy Eating Active Living City Campaign. The resolution, written in a one-size fits all format, includes the statement “significant societal and environmental changes are needed to support individual efforts to make healthier choices.” The resolution includes a requirement that the town “map existing fast food outlets and draft an ordinance which will place limits on fast food around schools and in neighborhoods with over-concentrations of unhealthy food outlets.” It also requires the town to “revise … plans and zoning ordinances” and “encourage general plan update” to encourage physical activity and access to healthy foods. Plus, “town staff will establish activity breaks for meetings over one hour long” and “set nutrition standards for food” offered at city-sponsored events and meetings. “It’s just another layer of government. We don’t need a resolution telling people of Loomis how to eat,” said councilmember Rhonda Morillas. Gary Liss, councilmember, wanted to know if the resolution had been circulated around town to get input, and wanted council to take another month before voting on it. “Obesity is no small issue,” Liss said. Mayor Sandra Calvert said the schools have already instituted a policy of only healthy items being allowed for parties. But Tammy Consulo, with Loomis Basin Charter School said it is only a policy at the charter school and not a district-wide policy. Walt Scherer, councilmember, said he was “very concerned about the one-size fits all” resolution and wants it tailored for Loomis. “It is the responsibility of local government to look after the health and welfare of its citizens,” but he said the resolution needs “to be more reflective to the values of our community without imposing restrictions on other’s rights and harming our businesses.” Pat Taylor, owner of Taylors restaurant, said, “I don’t think government is responsible to tell us what to eat and what not to eat.” He said the health department already tells restaurants not to use transfats, which was also part of the resolution. Charlotte Langston, owner of Wild Chicken coffee and president of the Loomis Basin Chamber of Commerce, said customers drive what businesses offer and was concerned about “possible spin-offs (ordinances) that could over-regulate our businesses.” Billy Crowley, former owner of the defunct Billy’s Great Buns, said, “I think it’s ridiculous to try and tell the business people what to do.” Kelly Worth said, “I support the topic. I don’t support government telling us what to do. What starts out as a very benign resolution eventually becomes an ordinance.” Planning Commissioner Jean Wilson said a number of the items included in the resolution don’t apply to Loomis. “If you intend to approve the resolution, you must intend to apply it,” Wilson said. Debbie Shores told the council, “This is none of your flipping business. You have a town to run – run it.” Ken Hokenson said, “Please don’t dictate how to eat, run our businesses and behave.” The council voted 4-1 to bring the resolution back at the April meeting. Morillas cast the dissenting vote. “We don’t need this resolution. It should just go away,” she said.