Seattle's sugary drink tax is now in effect across the city and leaders of the effort say it is expected to generate about $15 million in the first year alone. They say the money generated will go toward food programs for those in need, early learning, and other education programs.
“It does help phase out consumption and use of those products so if we can help reduce consumption of the bad things, have more access to the good things, it seems a win-win for everybody,” Sarah Wandler, with Odessa Brown Clinic, said.
Wandler is a social worker involved with the Fresh Bucks program. The program is one of the approved recipients of some of the tax money. More than $2 million will go toward their cause that helps provide farmers market produce to people on food stamps.
“The families get anywhere between $80 and $160 a month, depending on their family size, to buy fresh produce,” Wandler said. “Communities of color, low-income communities have been disproportionately marketed to so they are consuming more sugary drinks, and as a result, there are higher results of heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes.”
“We hear from families often that on such a limited budget for food they have to buy foods that they know their children will eat so they don't get as creative as they could if they had a larger budget for healthy foods,” Wandler added. “The feedback has just been, it's just so positive from these families that they are eating more fruits and vegetables, they're trying new fruits and vegetables, they feel healthier.”
Programs that the City Council has approved funding ($5,658,494) for in 2018 already include:
- Fresh Bucks, Food Action Plan - $2,404,359
- 13th year Promise Scholarship - $1,381,885
- Innovation High School, Summer Learning, Summer Melt - $1,004,500
- Our Best - $189,000
- Parent-Child Home Program - $525,000
- Food Banks - $153,750
Proposed investments ($4,120,639) awaiting review by CAB in Spring 2018:
- Farm to Table
- Fresh Bucks to Go
- Food Banks
- Out-of-School Time Nutrition Program
- Early learning program
As for the programs that have been approved, aside from Fresh Bucks and food banks, here's a brief description of their work:
- 13th year Promise Scholarship – Allows local graduating seniors to attend South Seattle College tuition-free for one year.
- Our Best – This is a city of Seattle initiative to improve the well-being of young African American men in the areas of education, positive connections, employment, health, and safety.
- Parent-Child Home Program – Provides literacy education to two-and three-year-old children from low-income families. The proposed budget will serve nearly 600 children.
- Innovation High Schools are a project at schools across Seattle. Innovation High Schools pushes strategies to reduce disciplinary actions, improve attendance, adopt a more rigorous curriculum, and improve college and career planning, among other things.