By Rob Port | Watchdog.org North Dakota Bureau
JUICE SQUEEZE: A new ordinance passed unanimously by the Fargo City Commission limits juice consumption by children in the city’s daycares to no more than six ounces today, and limits the sort of juice to be served to only 100 percent juice.
FARGO, N.D. — The city of Fargo is cracking down on juice consumption in day cares.
Children attending day care in the city may drink no more than six ounces of juice per day, and only pure-juice products are allowed, according to a new ordinance passed by the City Commission at a June 23 meeting,
“Juice shall only be provided to children 12 months and older, and shall not be provided in a bottle,” the new ordinance states. “Only 100 percent juice shall be permitted and children shall receive no more than six ounces per day.”
The ordinance says “Beverages with added sweeteners, whether artificial or natural, shall not be provided to children.”
The five-member commission passed the ordinance on the consent agenda with no debate or comment from the commissioners.
Tony Gehrig, who campaigned for a seat on the commission but lost in June, says these ordinances go too far.
“I am the authority on my child’s well-being, not our city commissioners,” he told Watchdog. “My day care reports to me my son’s activities and what he consumes, and if my day care is not performing up to my standards then the free market solution is to fire them. This law is unnecessary, intrusive and an attempt to replace to parent as the authority on their child.”
But Commissioner Mike Williams, who was part of the unanimous vote for the ordinance, says it’s about healthier kids.
“It’s similar to school lunch where they used to take ketchup as a vegetable,” he said. “Our health officers have been working with our day cares to create a healthier environment. It’s about good nutritious food in day cares.”
Asked how he responds to suggestions it may be overreaching, Williams says the city has the authority.
“It’s like any other licensed facility, whether it’s a store or bar or restaurant,” he says. “It’s like lunches in schools. We have similar oversight over any facility. I don’t see it as overreach.”
Newly-elected commissioner Dave Piepkorn disagrees.
“If I would have been there I would have made a lot more of it, and I definitely wouldn’t have voted for it,” he said. “Obviously obesity is a concern, but I think the government involvement is too much. Especially with day cares, I think that’s the parent’s responsibility.”
Piepkorn was elected to the commission in June but had not been seated yet when the ordinance was voted on. He thinks the ordinance was rushed through so he wouldn’t get a vote.
“I think there was a lot of that stuff they were trying to shovel through before I got there.”
This isn’t the first time the commission has pushed stringent new ordinances addressing child health. In May the commission passed an ordinance requiring all children older than 1 “be scheduled to participate in at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day,” with children 3 and older getting at least 30 minutes of “structured and guided physical activity.”
“Toddlers and preschool-age children shall not be sedentary or sit passively for more than 60 minutes continuously, except when sleeping.”
These ordinances apply to any child care facility operating in Fargo, defined as “Any facility required by the North Dakota Department of Human Services to have a health inspection where children receive care and supervision for 24 hours or less per day; unaccompanied by the child’s parent, guardian or custodian.”
The ordinances don’t apply to family day-care centers operating in private residences and serving no more than seven children at a time.