SAN FRANCISCO (BCN)
After San Francisco voters passed a measure in 2016 to tax sodas and other sugary drinks, Mayor Mark Farrell and Supervisor Malia Cohen announced today that the city will use $10 million of soda tax revenue annually to address health inequalities for the city’s low-income residents.
The funding will provide for health education, physical activity and food access programs, in addition to a campaign to raise awareness about consuming sugary beverages, Farrell’s office said.
“Whether encouraging more physical activity or promoting healthy eating campaigns, this budget will help provide solutions to the epidemics of obesity and heart disease in our underserved communities,” Farrell said in a statement.
“As the sponsor of this law, I am proud to stand with the community and uphold the promise of directing soda tax revenue toward reducing health disparities for people of color and working class people,” Supervisor Malia Cohen said. “These dollars will be invested in creative programming that decrease sugary drink consumption and increase water intake. Most importantly, those spending most on the tax will see a direct reinvestment in their communities towards health education and disease prevention.”
More than 62 percent of San Francisco voters approved the Soda and Sugary Beverages Tax Measure, which imposed a one-cent per ounce tax on the distribution of certain sweet beverages in the city.
According to Farrell’s office, because soda consumption is typically higher in low-income communities, those same communities suffer higher rates of obesity, heart disease and diabetes.
Of the $10 million in tax revenue funding, $4.5 million will be given as grants to community-based organizations that serve low-income communities and communities of color to focus on preventive health measures.
Two and a half million will be distributed to the San Francisco Unified School District for improving food and water access, as well as oral health services in schools, in the form of improved nutrition, efforts to reduce soda consumption and the installation of water stations at 23 schools.
The funding will also allow for healthy eating vouchers, which will be administered by community and faith-based organizations.
Furthermore, the funding will expand peer programs at HOPE SF housing sites, support the city’s Peace Parks program, the Healthy Retail program and several oral health task forces across the city, Farrell’s office said.
“The Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Tax revenue will increase our capacity to prepare students for learning and to practice healthy habits. As educators, we’re committed to the overall well-being of our students. This tax revenue will allow us to expand access to nutritious meals made of quality ingredients and locally grown produce, install more water hydration stations in our schools, increase access to dental care and establish robust nutrition education and student engagement programs to support healthy choices,” San Francisco school district Superintendent Vincent Matthews said in a statement.
To come up with a funding plan for the tax measure, Cohen and Farrell took into consideration recommendations from the Sugary Drinks Distribution Tax Advisory Committee. The committee’s recommendations called for a focus on prevention and direct investments in communities that are hit hardest by chronic disease and are the target of marketing campaigns from sugary drink makers, according to Farrell’s office.
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