• Create the infrastructure, mechanism, and container for consolidating a base of folks most affected by corporate sugar
  • Develop the capacities of neighborhood residents as leaders to influence public and private entities 
  • Build cross community solidarity
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East Oakland has the highest diabetes and obesity (“diabesity”) rates in Alameda County. The passage of Measure HH (“Soda Tax”) by Oakland voters during the November 2016 elections can significantly address this epidemic in low-income Black and Brown communities. However, if families most affected by diabesity are not consulted on the most effective ways to reduce the consumption of soda and help address the health impacts of sugar, then the promise of the Soda Tax will not be realized.

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The Sugar Freedom Project engages these families through:

  • Training residents from communities most affected by diabetes, obesity, and corporate sugar’s ubiquity to become community organizers (Resident Organizers)
  • These Resident Organizers engage their communities – defined by neighborhood, language, faith, school, etc – in the project by recruiting them to take the 90 Day Challenge pledge
  • Resident Organizers cultivate a relationship with their pledges beyond the challenge, learning about their unique experiences living in communities with such stark health disparities and hearing their solutions to combat these health epidemics. 
  • Resident Organizers and pledges come together at monthly events that:
    • Center cultural alternatives to sugary products
    • Use popular education and community-led workshops 
    • Lift up resident experiences and ideas

Check out a report on our Fall 2019 Pilot Phase

Sugar Freedom Project encourages decision-makers to recognize and commit to the priorities promoted by communities most impacted by sugar-sweetened drinks– low income communities of color whose rates of diabetes and obesity can arguably be described as a health epidemic. Following this strategy doesn’t only adhere to the directive and spirit of the Soda Tax Ordinance, i.e. “to prevent or reduce the health consequences …especially of those most affected by health disparities”, but it can also facilitate the empowerment of communities in the process. For communities like East Oakland, the resources that the Soda Tax provide is our best chance to break the historical grip of sugar–from the sugar plantations to the seductive marketing of Big Soda–where residents can choose freedom and a healthier future for their families and communities.

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A Collaborative Project led by In-Advance with Street Level Health Project, Roots Community Health Center, Planting Justice, Mandela Partners, Nepali & Bhutanese Community Associations, and Arab Community Associations, through the generous support of The California Endowment and Measure HH funding.