How Oakland became a leader in cutting school food waste

Among the 40 percent of all food thrown out is this statistic: America’s school lunch programs waste $5 million in food every day. FERN’s latest story, published with Grist, focuses on Nancy Deming of the Oakland Unified School District, a leader in the movement to cut school food waste and redirect the food to students and people in need. Here’s the main take-aways:

An Election-Day test for Big Ag and Big Soda

The farm lobby has a reputation for punching above its weight when it comes to federal policy, while the beverage industry usually has prevailed easily in arguments over soda taxes. Their winning records will be tested in Tuesday's general election, when polls suggest agricultural groups will lose referendums in Massachusetts and Oklahoma.

California soda tax campaign fizzes with $46 million in donations

The electoral tussles over 1-cent-per-ounce soda taxes in San Francisco and Oakland are becoming two of the most expensive campaigns in California this year with more than $46 million in donations, says public broadcaster KQED. The American Beverage Association has spent $28.7 million in fighting the taxes, said KQED, noting the nationwide ramification of referendums.

Philadelphia mayor says, ‘Don’t be afraid of Big Soda’

The grassroots can beat Big Soda, says Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney in an interview about the City Council vote during the summer to put a 1.5-cent-per-ounce tax on soda and sugary beverages. "Don't be afraid of Big Soda. They are not that tough," Kenney told Vox.

Soda tax is on the agenda in Illinois’ most populous county

The president of the Cook County Board proposed a 1-cent-per-ounce tax on sugary beverages — soft drinks, sports and energy drinks, and juices that aren't 100 percent fruit — to close a $174-million budget gap in the county that includes Chicago and 40 percent of Illinoisans. Like Philadelphia Mayor James Kenney, board president Toni Preckwinkle says the levy is fiscal tool.

Soda tax does appear to reduce consumption after all, economist says

The 21 percent decline in consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) following implementation of a soda tax in Berkeley "has important public health implications, providing I think the strongest evidence so far that a tax would reduce SSB consumption," writes Parke Wilde, an associate professor at Tuft's Friedman School of Nutrition, at his blog U.S. Food Policy. The effect was found in a study published in the the American Journal of Public Health this month.

Oakland to vote on soda tax, ‘huge fight’ expected

A third city in the San Francisco Bay area will vote whether to put a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, predominantly soda. This time, the November referendum will be in Oakland, neighbor to Berkeley, the first and only city in the nation to adopt a soda tax.