In 2016, San Franciscans were ready for the Sugary Drinks Distributor Tax. More than 62 percent of voters approved the measure to add a tax at the distributor level on sugar-sweetened beverages sold in the city. Since then, there has been little discussion within the community about the impact it has had. Circlepoint was brought on to the team to help raise awareness about the important work the tax funds are supporting, and support community organizations doing this work every day.
Our main task focused on supporting grants for 10 community-based organizations who would help spread the message about the importance of healthy eating and living, and avoiding sugar-sweetened beverages. We helped promote the grant application, reviewed responses, and coordinated contracts with the selected grantees. We then coordinated with the grantees over six months for them to deploy project information through their channels. The COVID-19 pandemic hit right in the middle of this work, so we quickly pivoted with our grantees to provide information online as much as possible (mostly through social media), and worked to help them plan more in-person education for later in the year.
We also coordinated a media buy through SFMTA to run bus ads to celebrate the work the soda tax helps to fund. The ads were delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and are scheduled to run once more shelter-in-place restrictions are lifted.
The culmination of our work was a community celebration bringing together SFDPH, our community grantees, and the public to celebrate the work being done across the city to improve health. This event was intended to be an outdoor community celebration, but since COVID-19 put limitations on that, we re-imagined the event as a virtual celebration. The virtual event included speakers from SFDPH, healthy eating and healthy living demonstrations from our grantees, a lively community chat, and celebrity cameo videos. The theme of the event not only celebrated healthy living, but also the amazing community resilience seen throughout the pandemic, the ability of SFDPH to shift funds quickly toward providing emergency food for those in need, and the acknowledgment of the Black Lives Matter movement and the importance of racial justice for health outcomes.