With a new tax on soda and junk food, the Navajo Nation moves to the cutting edge of legislation aimed at promoting healthier eating, reports Fooddive.com. Though the city of Berkeley passed a soda tax in November, junk food wasn’t targeted. But grab Doritos within the 27,000-square mile reservation, and you’ll pay a bit more.
Beginning April 1, junk food and soda will carry an extra two-cent sales tax according to the Healthy Dine Nation Act. Products include sugary beverages and snacks, sweets and baked and fried goods of “minimal-to-no-nutritional value,” reports npr.og.
The Navajo Nation is a food desert, with few options for the 250,000 residents to find healthy food. Unhealthy foods may comprise about 90 percent of a store’s inventory, reports fooddive.com. Obesity rates range from 23 to 60 percent. Ten percent of residents have diabetes and 30 percent are prediabetic.
The new tax may generate as much as $3 million for the Nation by 2020, predicts Denisa Livingston, a spokeswoman for Dine Community Advocacy Alliance, though no concrete numbers are available yet. The funds are earmarked for health and wellness programs on the reservation.
"With the tax measures, now the Navajo people will have an opportunity to have ownership over healthy foods [that will be cheaper now] and re-create our grocery stores," Livingston told NPR.