The Real Facts on the Soda Tax - Capital Area Food Bank
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The Real Facts on the Soda Tax

By Brian Banks May 14, 2010

Be Informed:  Get the Facts on the Soda Tax
What’s the Issue?

  • 43% of students enrolled in city public schools are overweight or obese — one of the highest rates in the nation
  • The District Government spends more than $400 million annually to treat obesity
  • Childhood obesity causes diabetes, hypertension, liver disease, sleep apnea, heart disease and is linked with higher rates of cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer, and can lead to an early death
  • For children, each extra can or glass of sugar-sweetened beverage consumed per day increases their chance of becoming obese by 60 percent

What’s a Solution?
On May 4, 2010 the DC City Council unanimously passed a groundbreaking piece of legislation called the ‘DC Healthy Schools Act’  to do more to ensure the health and wellness of District school children. This legislation:

  • Increases access to healthier food in schools – the act raises nutritional standards for school meals to include more whole grains, a wider variety of fruits and vegetables including those that are locally grown. It eliminates the reduced-price co-payment for lunch, and provides free breakfast in all schools with breakfast served in the classroom in schools with high poverty rates;
  •  Raises the bar for physical, health, and nutrition education – sets a goal of 60 minutes of physical activity for students each day and triples the amount of physical and health education; 
  • Establishes school-based environmental and gardening programs – recycling, energy-reduction, lead water and paint testing, and other environmental programs.

Given the current budgetary constraints, Councilmember Mary Cheh has proposed funding the Healthy Schools Act with a penny-per-ounce soda tax. Revenue from this tax would raise enough money to fund the Healthy Schools Act and will support:

  • Food access initiatives,
  • Community and faith-based anti-obesity programs, and
  • Nutritional programs for seniors

Tax Myths
This tax is nothing new.  Currently, 33 states, including Maryland and Virginia, tax sugar-sweetened beverages. Recent polls have demonstrated that over 70 percent of the city’s population supports implementing the soda tax.  Beverages that would not be taxed include:

  • Diet drinks and other non-caloric beverages would not be taxed
  • Beverages containing milk, milk alternatives, and greater than 70 percent fruit or vegetable juice would not be taxed

How You Can Make A Difference
We need your help to convince DC’s Council to fund the Healthy Schools Act and other community initiatives.  
Stand for healthy children and healthy communities by contacting your Councilmember and signing our petition at  Support healthy kids now!

Jim Graham
Member- Ward 1
Jack Evans
Ward 2
Mary Cheh
Member- Ward 3
Muriel Bowser
Member- Ward 4
Harry Thomas Jr.
Member- Ward 5
Tommy Wells
Member- Ward 6
Yvette Alexander
Member- Ward 7
Marion Barry
Member- Ward 8