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Kansas: Stop House Bill 2595 to protect your healthy food options

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Many of you have heard rumblings about a bill filed this week, House Bill 2595, which preempts local efforts to effect nutrition labeling and food incentives.  It has been scheduled for a hearing Wednesday, February 10 in House Commerce, Labor and Economic Development (which meets at 1:30pm in room 346-South if you care to attend).

Historically, lack of opposition means a bill gets rubber stamped and sails through a committee. We don’t want that is to happen with this bill! Here’s what you can do:

  • Submit written or verbal testimony. You can use the talking points at the end of this post to revise this testimony template. Feel free to personalize your testimony and explain how this bill would impact your work, community, etc. Testimony is due to the committee secretary (Room 521 E), by noon on Tuesday, February 9. If you are freaking out because this is soon and you can’t make it to Topeka, don’t worry!  Just send it to me and I’ll make sure it’s hand delivered in time.

When writing your testimony, keep these tips in mind: 

1) Keep it short. They will scan no more than one page, so make sure you don’t go over that.

2) Use bullets/highlights to help legislators quickly digest your message.

3) If you are lucky enough to be from the district of a committee member, send supplemental information via email about how the bill impacts their own community.

  • Make a quick call to the Committee Chairman, Rep. Mark Hutton (785 296-7488). It will be answered by his secretary, who keeps a record of who calls during the day in support or opposition of bills in his committee. Just a quick call can make a big difference. He is from Wichita, so bonus points if you call from his district!
  • Shoot a quick email to your State Representative and Senator to say that you personally as their constituent, or as an organization in their district, have concerns about the impact of this bill. Don’t know who represents you or your organization?  Click here to find out.

I know the short timeframe is going to be difficult for many of you to get your organization’s formal seal of approval for submitting testimony. But even if you can’t weigh in as an organization, please encourage your employees and advocates who live in Kansas to respond with personal phone calls or emails. It truly makes a difference!

House Bill 2595 Talking Points

Local Control Issues

  • This is the worst kind of “big government” action. It is a solution looking for a problem.
  • It will halt the growth of food policy councils, community gardens, urban agriculture zoning, and other local initiatives that support wider availability of healthy food across Kansas communities
  • It adds new, unnecessary limits on city and county authority:
    • Ties the hands of local authority to deal with some of the most pressing public health concerns in Kansas today, including diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and other chronic diseases associated with obesity and poor nutrition
    • Seeks to preempt local authority in areas that have traditionally been left to local control, including zoning, food service operations, and development of food policy councils
    • The state has not shown any interest, intention, or capacity to fill the void that would be left.
  • This bill takes away a vital tool for addressing food based health disparities and replaces it with nothing. Food based health disparities are inherently local, and need local solutions that are tailored to the specific community.
  • This bill takes a one-size-for-all approach that would perpetuate race-, income-, education-, and location-based health disparities linked to food and food access.
  • This bill is bad for Kansas.

Obesity and Nutrition in Kansas

  • 30% of Kansas children age 10-17 are considered overweight or obese by BMI measures
  • The prevalence of overweight and obesity in Kansas among children in poor families is more than double the rate for children in higher-income families (45.1% to 20.6%)
  • Kansas ranks 13th in the nation for adult obesity, with an obesity rate of 31.3%
  • The Kansas Food Bank reports 82 percent of households report purchasing inexpensive, unhealthy food because they could not afford healthier options.

Importance of Nutrition Standards

  • Procurement policies use the purchasing power of government to make an impact on food availability and add to the overall demand for more healthful products. Procurement policies can model healthier food environments, potentially drive the reformulation of foods, and have an impact on diverse settings (e.g., employee cafeterias, correctional facilities, schools, child care centers, public hospitals, senior centers, parks). Healthy food procurement policies are a way for local governments to take responsibility and support healthy eating choices for all Kansans.
  • According to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, eating and physical activity patterns that are focused on consuming fewer calories, making informed food choices, and being physically active can help people attain and maintain a healthy weight, reduce their risk of chronic disease, and promote overall health.

 

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