Author Archives: Shuka Kalantari

Shuka Kalantari is a reporter at KQED, focusing on health and culture among immigrant and refugee communities. She formerly produced The California Report's occasional series, Whats Your Story? The series shared perspectives from under-represented communities across the state. She's a Philosophy and Spanish & Latin American Studies graduate from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and received a Masters degree in Multimedia Health and Medicine Reporting from The City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism in 2007. You can view her stories

Richmond Residents Weigh in on Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Tax

Yes on N, Richmond soda tax mural

Yes on Richmond soda tax mural, by artists Mike Rich with Chris Khali of "Dunk the Junk." (Photo: Kristin Farr)

Two California cities — Richmond in Northern California’s Contra Costa County and El Monte in Los Angeles County — have proposed a one-cent-per-ounce tax on sugar sweetened beverages, including sodas and energy drinks. The Community Coalition Against Beverage Taxes (funded by the American Beverage Association) has spent approximately $3.5 million to defeat the measures. The coalition argues that it’s a tax on the poor, and it will hurt small businesses.

No on N, Richmond soda tax billboard

Argument against the sugar-sweetened beverage tax include that it is a tax on that poor & will hurt small businesses. (Photo: Kristin Farr)

In Richmond, non-profits like Fit For Life and the Richmond Progressive Alliance are urging the community to vote yes on Measure N on November 6th. They argue the tax is a step forward for the city, and that revenue for the taxes can be used to fight childhood obesity.

I visited Richmond Main Street’s Spirit and Soul Festival and the city’s Certified Farmer’s Market to see what some Richmond residents thought about the measure. Most of the people I approached didn’t know about the tax, and many were undecided. Below are three responses from people in support of the proposed tax, and three in opposition.


Keira Chatman-Green:

“I think that it is absolutely ridiculous. If I have a Diet Pepsi and I want a Diet Pepsi, I’m gonna get it. If the soda cost a dollar and then I had to pay a dollar fifty or something to that effect, I’m going to pay it ‘cuz I want a Pepsi. Healthier food is more expensive than junk foods. So I can definitely see if they raise the taxes on junk food and lower the taxes on healthier foods such as vegetables and different fibers and different stuff like that, than that would make more sense. But just taxing junk food alone? Absolutely not. I think that the focus should be on education and children and raising the children, period. And stopping the violence in Richmond. Instead of soda, and chips and cookies.” Continue reading