The California city of Perris, about 75 miles east of Los Angeles, has become the second municipality in the U.S. to require that supermarkets stock their checkout lanes with healthier grab-and-go items.
“The city of Perris is excited to join this initiative and help promote healthy food options in our community,” Clara Miramontes, Perris city manager, told SN. “We are committed to the long-term health and wellness of residents and look forward to successful results.”
The move was supported by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which has driven several health-awareness campaigns targeting grocery stores and restaurants.
“This move will make it easier for consumers to avoid both marketing and impulse purchases of drinks and snacks that are high in sugar and salt,” said Karen Gardener, senior policy associate, CSPI. “We hope more communities follow suit and pass similar policies.”
The move by Perris, with a population of about 80,000, follows a similar ordinance that passed in 2020 in Berkeley, Calif., and took effect in March 2021. Both laws were passed by unanimous votes in their respective city councils.
The new rule will require food retailers to remove soda, chips, and cookies from checkout aisles, and replace them with healthier alternatives such as fruit, nuts, seeds, seltzer and other low- or no-calorie drinks, according to the CSPI. The new ordinance takes effect July 1.
Several food retailers that operate stores in Perris, including Stater Bros., Walmart, and WinCo, could not be reached for comment.
The campaign to adopt the measure in Perris was led by local community organizations, including Love4Life and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Inland Valley, alongside the statewide advocacy group Public Health Advocates, with support from CSPI. Perris Mayor Michael Vargas championed the policy, with support from Councilmember and Mayor Pro Tem Marisela Nava, according to the CSPI.
Additionally, the City of Perris’ Youth Advisory Council played a lead role in obtaining support from the broader community.
“As a youth-serving organization, we are excited to see healthier options at checkout to help create a brighter and healthier future in Perris for our youth,” said Julia Burch, assistant director of development for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Inland Valley, in a statement.
Other municipalities in California are encouraging retailers to stock or promote healthier food options through voluntary, incentive-based programs, according to the Healthy Food Policy Project.
These include San Francisco’s Healthy Food Retailer Ordinance, which provides support to small food stores in underserved areas to sell healthy food, and Baldwin Park’s Healthy Corner Market Policy, through which corner market stores receive incentives, such as low-interest loans and public recognition, in exchange for stocking fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy beverages and healthy snacks, among other criteria, including dedicated checkout lanes free of candy, tobacco and alcohol.
“Although these types of store-based environmental intervention programs are being continually monitored for effectiveness, there is evidence that they are successful in increasing access to and purchasing of healthy foods among consumers, especially those living in underserved areas,” the HFPP said on its website.
Several food retailers, including Aldi and Target, have tested implementing better-for-you checkout lanes. West Sacramento, Calif.-based Raley’s has been among the leaders in these initiatives, removing high-sugar carbonated beverages and conventional candy from its checkout lanes.