TURLOCK — The city has signed onto a statewide healthy living initiative, but don't worry: Your Big Gulps aren't going anywhere.
Tuesday night, the Turlock City Council pledged its support to the Healthy Eating Active Living Cities Campaign to combat obesity and promote wellness in the community and among its employees.
Some 143 cities throughout the state support the campaign from the California Center for Public Health Advocacy and endorsed by the League of California Cities. Modesto, Oakdale, Ceres, Patterson and Riverbank already have passed similar resolutions.
In Turlock, the resolution drew mild concern about possibly leading to overarching policies like last year's proposed super-sized soda ban from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
"I understand that this is a good thing, but I'm kind of concerned about the New York thing," said Delhi resident Russell Silva, the pastor at Fellowship Bible Chapel in Turlock. "What would be the chances this coming to pass here in Turlock?"
The healthy eating campaign resolution includes no specific policies other than encouraging those that would promote healthy lifestyles, especially among children.
Lourdes Perez, with the Central California Regional Obesity Prevention Program, said weight problems for children ages 6 to 19 have increased fourfold in the last four decades.
Suggestions to combat the problem were centered around land use, healthy foods and worksite wellness. Those include ideas like creating bike paths, promoting farmers markets in neighborhoods and building community gardens.
The resolution unanimously passed, but not without a few words of reassurance from Turlock Mayor John Lazar.
"Well, my name isn't Bloomberg and I'm think we can still buy super big soft drinks here," Lazar said. "I don't believe we're thinking of banning any choice from anyone. Just encouraging a healthy lifestyle."
At the beginning of the meeting, Lazar read a proclamation declaring April 27 Love Turlock day in the city. The event, modeled after Love Modesto, is citywide community service day endorsed by several churches and neighborhood groups. It began in Turlock in 2009; last year, 1,200 people participated.
"We so appreciate the city's support," said the Rev. David Larson, with Turlock's New Life Christian Church. "It's amazing some of the heartaches we see, and to see people come along side of them and build some hope. Unapologetically, we say this in what Christ has shown to us."
The meeting also was the last regular council meeting to be held at 7 p.m. Earlier this year, members approved a plan to begin the meetings at 6 p.m. The April 9 meeting will be the first to start at the new time.