Over £50,000 money raised from a voluntary tax on sugary drinks in restaurants across the UK will be used to open water fountains in parks, schools, youth groups and even a BMX club in some of the most deprived areas of the country.
The funds are being allocated by the Children’s Health Fund, launched in 2015 by food and farming charity Sustain and funded by a voluntary 10p levy on drinks with added sugar in over 130 of the UK’s leading restaurants, cafes and coffee shops.
The Fund today announced that it has made awards to 26 organisations around the UK that will help to improve children’s access to tap water. Campaigners hope that access to free drinking water will encourage young people to drink alternatives to unhealthy sugary drinks. Soft drinks are the largest single source of sugar in children’s diets, accounting for almost a third of their sugar intake.
The news comes after the Government announced a national sugary drinks tax which will be in place in 2018.
John Vincent, Founder of LEON one of the first participating restaurant chains, said:
“I believe that our addiction to sugar is making us sick and costing the NHS billions every year. Our children are consuming far too much sugar and even one can of a fizzy drink takes them over their recommended daily intake. We introduced the sugar levy in LEON to show we could use soft drinks to raise money and help fix the problem they’re causing.
“I’m really pleased that in nine months we’ve managed to raise enough to give thousands of children access to free, healthy water and also persuaded lots of LEON customers to choose healthier alternatives. Just think what the Government can achieve when it introduces a national tax and invests that back in our children’s health.”
Gloria Davies-Coates, Children’s Health Fund manager, said:
“We are delighted to be able to provide access to drinking water for our children and young people across the UK. The Children’s’ Health Fund is still new so to be able to have this level of impact from our first funding round is wonderful. We hope other restaurants will come on board so we can help improve more children’s diets across the UK.”
Jamie Oliver, children’s food campaigner and celebrity chef said:
“When I launched the Children’s Health Fund and the levy on sugary sweetened drinks last year, my plan was always to use the money to help children all over the UK to have access to fresh food and water. I’m delighted that we’ve now raised enough money to give grants to 26 projects all over the country, all helping kids get access to clean drinking water. I’m also very proud to say that the next lot of funding is going to tackle holiday hunger. This truly is a tax for good.”
The next round of funding, focusing on improving food provision within kids’ holiday clubs, will open for applications in July 2016.