You Heard Correctly, Berkeley is Taking on Big Soda

The Berkeley Healthy Child Initiative is a group of people dedicated to improving the health of Berkeley’s children. We’re raising support for a penny-per-ounce tax on distributors of sugary drinks. The BHCI is made up of Berkeley residents, parents, and has been endorsed by numerous local organizations, including the NAACP, and leaders such as Michael Pollan - join us!

Obesity rates across the nation have soared, and Berkeley is no exception - 40% of 9th graders in Berkeley Unified School District are overweight or obese, putting them at risk for long-term health issues, like diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension. Children are being diagnosed with diabetes at younger ages, severely impacting their health, academic performance, and futures. Sugary drinks - like soda, energy drinks, and sports drinks - are a major contributor to high rates of obesity, diabetes, and cavities among both children and adults. The soda industry targets youth, especially youth of color, with relentless marketing, clever tactics, and celebrity endorsements that promote unhealthy drinks. As a result, in Alameda County, soda consumption has increased among children and adolescents (ages 2-17) - 43% of kids drink one or more sugary drinks every day. 

We can remedy this situation by making distributors of sugary drinks pay a penny-per-ounce tax on any drink that contains added caloric sweeteners. Our first step was bringing this issue to City Council on February 11th, where we received an extremely positive response from councilmembers.DSCN1501.jpg

Support for a tax was confirmed by a recent community poll indicating that 66% of Berkeley voters would a penny-per-ounce tax if revenue were directed to the city’s general fund. Our coalition backs putting this revenue towards programs that give kids and parents tools to help them eat better, like cooking and gardening classes across the Berkeley Unified School District, community healthy food access programs, and early childhood nutrition education.

 

We need your help to spread the word about our initiative! Visit the Take Action page to become a supporter, volunteer to help the initiative, or make a donation. We’ll also be holding a volunteer training and coalition meeting on Saturday, April 26 - be on the lookout for more details soon. And, tell your friends!

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As of January 2017, Berkeley’s soda tax has generated more than $2.5 million for community nutrition & health efforts, including school garden programs.