Support Healthy Schools and Healthy Communities: Don’t let Big Soda Buy our Council Members’ Votes

Last year, the DC Department of Health found that 43% of students enrolled in our DC public schools were overweight or obese — one of the highest rates in the nation. These students live in a city where over half of the adult population is overweight or obese.  In some neighborhoods, the percentage of overweight or obese adults can be as high as 70%.

On May 4, the DC City Council unanimously passed a groundbreaking piece of legislation called the ‘DC Healthy Schools Act’ to fight this problem. Building off many of the ideas in Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign, the DC Healthy Schools Act tackles the obesity problem on several fronts.  The school lunch program will be reformed, with enhanced nutritional standards and a strong emphasis on bringing fresh, local fruits and vegetables to schools.  Physical and health education will be increased threefold.  And through a new school garden program, students will have a hands-on nutrition education and be empowered to make healthier eating choices.

DC Council member Mary Cheh has proposed that we fund these progressive programs with a penny-per-ounce soda tax.  In addition to funding these wonderful school programs, the money raised through the soda tax (approximately $9.4 million annually) will go towards food access initiatives, community-based anti-obesity programs, and nutritional programs for the elderly.

I testified on Friday, May 7, before DC City Council in support of this funding proposal. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, the American Beverage Association (ABA), who represent Coke, Pepsico and Dr. Pepper-Snapple, are fighting tooth and nail to halt this funding mechanism. The ABA has already dumped $5.4 million into advertisements to drum up opposition to this tax. Yet in the last two weeks, our grassroots support has their corporate carbonated consortium on the defensive — as polls have demonstrated that over 70% of the city’s population supports implementing the soda tax.  They’re even more scared at the prospect of this tax becoming a precedent for other cities seeking to implement programs for the health of their children and communities.

We want this to become the norm!  We need to convince DC’s Council to fund the Healthy Schools Act and other community initiatives.

So we need your help! We need you to stand for healthy children and healthy communities by signing our petition at and ask your friends to do the same.  Healthy schools create stronger and safer communities. Healthy communities grow our economy now and in the future. Support healthy schools now at

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