Overview of the Coalition for Healthy Campus Food and Beverages
65,000 people eat and drink at UC Berkeley every day. Our food and beverage choices matter. UC Berkeley’s longtime leadership in values-based procurement has us now looking more closely at the presence of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) on campus. SSBs are the largest source of added sugar in the American diet, and their consequences are a matter of health equity. SSBs are the leading dietary item that has been shown to contribute to obesity. Furthermore, SSBs increase risk of tooth decay and life-threatening diet-related diseases such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Just 1-2 servings/day of SSBs increases risk of type 2 diabetes by 26%. Simultaneously, the beverage industry spends billions of dollars every year on marketing SSBs, targeting low income people and people of color, who already bear a disproportionate burden of diet-related disease. In fact, 1 in 2 Latinx Americans and African Americans are projected to get diabetes in their lifetime, compared to 1 in 3 non-Hispanic white Americans.
The Coalition for Healthy Campus Food and Beverages was formed to bring more stakeholders into campus decision-making on food and beverage choices, uplift Berkeley values through procurement practices, and raise awareness of human and planetary health in the process. At UC Berkeley, we are in year eight of a 10-year exclusive pouring rights contract with PepsiCo for beverage service across Cal Dining dining halls and retail outlets, student housing, campus vending machines, athletics concessions, and special events. The contract provides annual sponsorship of $1.3 million (0.05% of the annual campus budget of $2.8 billion) as operational funds to the Associated Students of the University of California, Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, Recreational Sports, and the Residential and Student Services Program, as well as $40,000 in product donations, and $235,000 in funding to market PepsiCo’s own products.
The Coalition for Healthy Campus Food and Beverages recognizes that SSBs and many of the companies that market them are responsible for various negative health and sustainability impacts, from aggressively marketing SSBs to children of color, to funding biased studies, to actively undermining public health efforts and policies to address health implications associated with SSBs.
Founding members of the Coalition for Healthy Campus Food and Beverages include: Berkeley Food Institute, UC Berkeley School of Public Health, UCANR Nutrition Policy Institute, University Health Services – Be Well at Work, Health Promotion – University Health Services, BFI Undergraduate Council, Food@Haas, Basic Needs Security Committee, FoodInno, FEED (Food, Equity, Entrepreneurship, and Development), Net Impact Berkeley, and Berkeley Student Food Collective.
The Coalition for Healthy Campus Food and Beverages promotes a healthy campus culture by:
- Championing a democratic process for campus decision-making on food and beverage choices.
- Uplifting UC Berkeley values by advancing corporate responsibility with food and beverage vendors.
- Raising awareness of the impacts of sugar-sweetened beverages on human and planetary health.
- Expanding the reach of the UC Berkeley Food and Beverage Choices Policy.
- Finding viable, creative solutions to ensuring vital financial support to UC Berkeley programs that are currently funded through any contracts that do not align with UC Berkeley’s Principles of Community.
Proposals for the Future of UC Berkeley’s Beverage Service
In fall 2019, ten interdisciplinary undergraduate and graduate students participated in a case design course to envision the next 5–10 years of beverage service at UC Berkeley, for after the current contract with PepsiCo expires in 2021. The class was taught by Rosalie Z. Fanshel, program manager at the Berkeley Food Institute. It challenged students to think at the intersection of health and business: considering human and planetary health—and health equity—together with short- and long-term financial costs and benefits and corporate responsibility.
The case design course had two overarching goals. The first was pedagogical: to use the UC Berkeley campus as a living lab to explore food systems concepts that students can then apply at-scale to a wide variety of problems throughout their future work. Simultaneously, the project furthered the Coalition for Healthy Campus Food and Beverages’ goal of expanding participation in—and thus championing a democratic process for—campus decision-making on food and beverage choices.