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Model Healthy Food Zone Ordinance

Enacting zoning measures to ensure healthier food options near schools

Model Legal Document
Food & Beverages
Child Care & Schools

One strategy local governments can employ to help support schools’ efforts to improve student health is to prohibit fast food restaurants and mobile vendors from locating near schools.

This strategy is aimed particularly toward middle and high school students who may leave campus during lunchtime or get to and from school on their own. But it can also support parents of younger children in their efforts to feed their children healthier food, and the strategy can work in conjunction with Safe Routes to Schools programs.

By enacting zoning measures to prohibit the location of fast food restaurants and mobile food vendors near schools, communities can prevent children from substituting low-nutrient, high-calorie food for the healthier options served at school. Communities may also choose to extend the prohibition to parks, community centers, libraries, and other locations children frequent.

This strategy is best employed by communities that are planning new schools or have existing schools that do not currently have fast food restaurants located near them. These communities can use this ordinance to ensure that the school zones remain free of fast food restaurants. Communities that already have fast food available near schools can use this ordinance to prevent additional restaurants from locating near schools.