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The New York Times reports that the Save The Children charity has changed its tune when it comes to supporting a tax on carbonated, sugared beverages that had been proposed in places such as Mississippi, New Mexico, Washington State, Philadelphia and the District of Columbia. While the soda tax movement continues, Save The Children now no longer supports it ... and Carolyn Miles, COO of the group, says it is because this kind of advocacy seemed to not be in synch with its core mission.

However, the Times notes that at the same time as Save The Children adjusted its position, it was seeking a major grant from Coca-Cola to support its health and education programs, and already has received a $5 million grant from PepsiCo. (Discussions with Coca-Cola are ongoing.) Both soft drink companies are vociferously opposed to soft drink taxes.

Miles tells the Times that the grants had nothing to do with the change of policy, and both Coke and Pepsi said they did not ask Save The Children to change its advocacy for the tax.

The Times writes, “Save the Children’s involvement in the issue began in late 2009, when it got a $3.5 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to fight childhood obesity through a program it called the Campaign for Healthy Kids. Save the Children initially financed the work of local groups, some of which focused on improving school lunches and requiring health education in schools. But local activists in Mississippi, New Mexico and Washington State used the grants to push for a soda tax.”

(BTW...the Wall Street Journal reports this morning that while soda taxes can raise cash, a new study published in the Archives of Internal Message suggests that they have a minimal impact on obesity, producing “an annual average weight loss of about 1.3 pounds per person.”)
KC's View:
Save The Children sounds almost shocked that anyone would suggest it caved to political pressure.

I am reminded of the scene in Casablanca when Major Renault (Claude Rains) says he is “shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on” at Rick’s Cafe American ... and then a croupier hands him his winnings. “Thank you very much,” Renault says.