The Loop Newspaper - Tehachapi's Online Community News & Entertainment Guide

By Pat Doody 

Certified Healthy program coming to Kern County restaurants


July 21, 2018

Pat Doody

Health Services Director Matthew Constantine introduces (from left) restaurant owners Blake and Gina Millon and Joe Coughlin, Asst. Director Brynn Carrigan, Inspector Aaron Stonelake and Epidemiologist Kim Hernandez.

On Wednesday, July 12 Kern County Public Health Services unveiled their new Certified Healthy program for Kern County restaurants. The program uses a number of criteria to identify foods that are considered healthy and can be used to lower chronic disease and obesity risks. Restaurants that meet the standards will be recognized with a prominent logo on the restaurant grading card that is displayed in their window.

At the news conference, Health Services Director Matthew Constantine said that the more stringent program has already taken hold in cities like Los Angeles and Austin, Texas. According to epidemiologist Kim Hernandez, Kern County has the second highest heart disease rate of any county in California, about 49 percent higher than the state average. Kern County is also among the highest in Diabetes and Obesity.

To be eligible for the new certification, a restaurant needs to fulfill these requirements: At least six items under 500 calories. An option of fruit/vegetables as a side dish or a side item with meals. At least one salad option. Whole grain bread/side option. At least six options with less than 30 percent of DRI (Dietary Reference Intakes) of sodium (meals). Meal options with less than five grams of saturated fat. No meals exceeding 2,000 calories. Offers at least five vegetarian dishes. Has a non-fried fish option. Has at least four food options containing 10 g. of fiber. Assistant Director Brynn Carrigan said that any restaurant in Kern County seeking the Certified Healthy designation should go to the website and click on the Certified Healthy button. Carrigan then introduced Aaron Stonelake as the program's site inspector.

The county has also developed the Safe Diner App which can be downloaded from their website. It displays all the restaurants in the county as well as their last three inspection reports. A toggle takes you to Certified Healthy which displays all the Certified Healthy locations.

As of July 12, four Bakersfield restaurants have received the Certified Healthy logo: Better Bowls, Rio Acai, Coconut Joe's and Locale Farm to Table Eatery. Blake and Gina Millon of Better Bowls told how Blake had been overweight forcing him to look at healthier options and ultimately to open a healthy, mostly vegan restaurant. Blake said that he thought the new program was a, "great tool."

Pat Doody

Joe Coughlin started Coconut Joe's in 1987 and was instrumental in developing the letter grade system that upped restaurant standards. He said that he ism "thrilled to be part of it (the new program)." Having had leukemia, he said he was already eating healthy and walking 20-minutes a day. Coconut Joe's has added a new Light Menu.

Three years ago Heather Laganelli opened Locale Farm to Table Eatery. She came from the East Coast 14 years ago, got into healthy eating and liked that farms here grew wonderful produce. Locale is a lunch only eatery.

The Certified Healthy program is available to all restaurants throughout Kern County, not just in Bakersfield. For more information visit


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