Food Bank and Meal Program Amendment to Sugar Sweeten Beverage Tax

Today, June 5th, the Seattle City Council approved a bill to tax sugar sweetened beverages. I proposed an amendment to that bill to declare that food banks and meal programs are an acceptable use of funds under the spending plan. Creating a dedicated funding source for food banks and meal programs is groundbreaking and historic. It is past time we make a moral commitment that in the City of Seattle everybody eats. Regardless of their income, housing or job status, no person should go hungry in our City. These basic services are the heart of our community based investments. Food banks and meal programs, while providing for the most basic of needs, also provide so many other services to help people and families find stability and assistance. They can often be the first place people go when in need.

For the past several years, though local food banks have reported double digit increases in the number of people seeking their services, the City has only been making inflationary adjusted investments to most program budgets. This leads to programs trying to serve more people with inadequate resources. I had to look past the questions of whether to include diet drinks, lattes and bubble teas, to focus on the issue closest to my heart, to the many people in our city who are going to bed with empty stomachs. A student cannot learn, a person cannot work, and a senior cannot stay healthy unless they have food to eat. By passing this amendment we declared that in Seattle, everyone eats.

I was honored to have all my Council colleagues unanimously approve my amendment to the bill. Everyone should have a right to eat in our City.

Also included in this bill:

  • Exemption for businesses making under $2Million annually (and a gradual increase for businesses between $2Million and $4Million)
  • Funding set aside to assist with employment re-training for workers who may be displaced as a result of decreasing demand on sugary beverage products
  • Funding for the 13th year program to provide scholarships and assist to students transitioning from Seattle public High Schools to Seattle Colleges
  • Funding for public health initiatives, birth-to-five interventions, and other healthy food access programs

Read more about the bill.



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