Archive for Monday, October 7, 2013

Editorial: Healthy options

It may take some effort to figure out the best way to offer healthy options at city-owned concession stands, but it’s a goal worth pursuing.

October 7, 2013

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The Lawrence Parks and Recreation Department is all about people being physically active and having a healthy lifestyle.

Requiring contractors who operate concession stands at city ballfields and recreation centers to offer healthy food options certainly fits with that mission, but implementing such a program may require some special considerations for the city.

Recreation officials announced last month that they were crafting a policy that would require at least half of the food offered at city-owned concession stands to qualify as “healthy,” meaning it would meet limits for calories, as well as fat and sugar content.

The city would require its contracting concessions operators to offer at least one fresh fruit or vegetable and healthy beverages, such as water, fat-free milk or 100 percent fruit or vegetable juices. And the “healthy” foods would have to be priced at or below the prices for comparable concessions that don’t meet the health guidelines.

Not all patrons will welcome this change, but some will appreciate having options. City officials say they envision a concessions menu that would include turkey wraps, grilled chicken sandwiches and other healthy offerings along with the cheeseburgers and candy that currently dominate the menu.

The only problem is that healthy food doesn’t necessarily pencil out from a business standpoint. Hy-Vee, the city’s current concessions contractor, reportedly tried three years ago to offer salads, fruit and other items, but they didn’t sell well, which presumably resulted in considerable waste of perishable food. If the city wants to require its concessions operator to offer such foods — at prices comparable to other offerings — it may need to provide a financial incentive or subsidy. Even so, the city may find that many businesses choose not to pursue the contract to operate the city-owned stands.

It will take some time to change the way people eat at concession stands, but it’s a cinch people aren’t going to make a healthy choice if there are none available. It also may take some time for concession-stand operators to figure out what healthy choices are most popular and easiest to keep in stock.

Even if the city has to offer some financial subsidies at the beginning of this process, it’s a change worth trying. It makes no sense for the city to offer activities to promote a healthy lifestyle and then undermine that philosophy by offering no healthy options at its own concession stands.

Comments

Lawrence Morgan 1 year, 9 months ago

This article is excellent and to the point. I don't eat healthy goods all the time, but when they are available I will choose them.

Thanks again for having this editorial.

stevieboy 1 year, 9 months ago

Huge soccer complex in Overland Park tried mandating healthy choices when it first opened. Lasted about 3 months,they realized little johnnie didnt want a salad but a hot dog or pretzel..

Chris Tilden 1 year, 9 months ago

Since the beginning of the year Johnson County Parks and Recreation has been collaborating with their local health department to offer healthier options in concession stands in their fieldhouses and other venues. Providing healthier choices appears to have proven popular with patrons, so much so that Parks and Recreation will be expanding the program next year. I commend Lawrence Parks and Recreation for pursuing ways to make healthy choices available to children and their families who want to live healthy, active lives!

A link to one of many stories on the Johnson County effort can be found at:

http://www.jcprd.com/apps/news/specific_record_info.cfm?id=7676

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