The American Heart Association has been a staunch supporter of Seattle’s Sweetened Beverage Tax (SBT) since the legislation was first introduced and passed in 2017. With implementation well underway, Seattle is realizing the benefits of the tax and related investments in community health, particularly in the areas of healthy food access and early learning.
hero_image_alt_text===A little kid drawing a picture at a table
thumbnail_alt_text===A little kid drawing a picture at a table
Since its inception the Sweetened Beverage Tax (SBT) Community Advisory Board (CAB) has played a critical role as advisor to the Mayor and City Council, lifting up community-identified needs and priorities for SBT revenue investment. This year the CAB included an exciting new recommendation to invest $1.5 million to establish a brand new grant program for “community-based organizations specializing in high-quality prenatal-to-three and kindergarten readiness services that seek to reduce the disparities in outcomes for children and families.” The American Heart Association is a strong supporter of investments in early learning as it is a powerful social determinant of health. Children who participate in early education programs may have a more positive, stable family environment and have better learning, social, and emotional skills, setting them on a path for good health and educational success. The CAB recommends prioritizing culturally- and linguistically-relevant programs and organizations led by and service communities of color, ensuring those children who stand to benefit most from these programs gain from this investment.
We are very pleased to see Mayor Durkan’s proposed SBT spending is in close alignment with all of the CAB’s recommendations, and indeed keeps all SBT-funded programs whole, especially in this challenging economic time. We have encouraged the City Council to include all of these investments in the Council’s final 2021 budget and we will continue to monitor the rest of the budget process.