United Parents and Students will open their advocacy year at Ánimo Jackie Robinson on February 4 when they will present the Green Dot Public School California parents with a healthy initiative that they hope will make it all the way into an ordinance in Los Angeles County.
Healthy Checkout and Keep the Soda in the Soda Aisle are two model ordinances that will be discussed with communities, hopefully getting the approval and getting large support in order to convince the authorities to enact them.
“This is the phase where we organize, and people get to choose their own issues. We’ll present something and that’s our job as organizers. If we can get people to turn around, then we’ll get some place,” explained Larry Foundation, UPAS executive director.
The Healthy Checkout Ordinance aims to encourage healthy purchases and improve health in the county by providing consumers with healthy products in checkout areas at large retail stores. The Soda Ordinance aims to encourage healthy purchases and improve health by limiting consumer exposure to sugar-sweetened beverages.
In order to educate and encourage the community to support the initiative, Karen Gardner, senior policy advocate at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, will detail how both ordinances will benefit both parents and students.
The Healthy Checkout Ordinance would ensure that retail stores will ensure that all food and beverages displayed in the checkout area will have beverages with no added sugar and no calorie sweeteners. It also proposes that food items in the area will contain no more than 5 grams of added sugars or 200 milligrams of sodium. Also, the food items in the checkout lane would be in the following categories: fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, chewing gum and mints with no Added Sugars, yogurt, cheese, or grains.
“I can see a scenario where parents say this will be good, we don’t want our kids to have type 2 diabetes at the age of 15,” said Foundation. “The question now is hard to predict with the pandemic, people haven’t been going to City Hall or the Board of Supervisors or the School Board that much… I think they’ll think it is good, but do they think it is good enough to spend their time and energy?”
This will be UPAS’ first big training session for parents since the COVID pandemic struck in 2020. Foundations admits it will be a challenge to mobilize the community to meetings, although he didn’t discard a hybrid in person/virtual mode soon.
“That’s a challenge as we start to look at some of that stuff. Do we need to have a hybrid model? Do we bring some people in? I’m not sure yet,” adds Foundation. “We are going back to the gym and getting our turnout muscles exercised. We’ll see if there’s an appetite, do they think this is worth their time, because they would have to email the supervisors, work a text campaign and probably show up.”
UPAS has spearheaded other initiatives recently, including the food voucher program during the pandemic and the students mobilizing to eradicate flavored tobacco, which moved over 250 students to protest against its use. Depending on the support from the community, the initiatives to be presented would move forward.
“This is the phase where we organize and people get to choose their own issues, we’ll present something and that’s our job as organizers. If we can get people to turn around, then we’ll get some place,” Foundation said.