Students Stop Soda

By Brittney Saline

In Nutrition

December 14, 2015

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SF State groups beat back pouring-rights contract worth millions.

On Nov. 19, a group of about 20 college students in San Francisco, California, managed to do what countless community leaders and health advocates have failed to do: beat Big Soda.

After a five-month campaign protesting San Francisco State University’s pursuit of a 10-year pouring-rights contract with The Coca-Cola Co. or PepsiCo Inc., the student-run SF State chapter of Real Food Challenge (RFC) convinced SF State President Leslie Wong to stop the contract process. Sixteen other student organizations, two grassroots community-health collaborations, several SF State faculty members, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and more than 10 percent of the student body assisted the RFC.

Commonplace since the 1990s, pouring-rights contracts grant corporations exclusive sales and marketing opportunities on school campuses in exchange for funds, the use of which is often restricted to purposes designed to funnel money back to the provider. The SF State deal was poised to bring in a one-time minimum contribution of US$2 million and annual contributions of at least $125,000, according to a May SF State request for proposals obtained by the CrossFit Journal.

Though Big Soda dollars promise relief in the face of budget deficits and a lack of government funding for higher education, critics argue that ubiquitous on-campus marketing of sugar-sweetened beverages does more harm than good. Added sugar has been shown to increase risk for diabetes, tooth decay, obesity and a host of other health problems.

“The most questionable aspect of these contracts is that they link returns to the companies and to the schools to amounts that students drink,” Marion Nestle wrote in “Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health.”

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4 Comments on “Students Stop Soda”


wrote …

State sponsored terrorism...whatever happened to the individual fundamental right to decide? And what about those soda drinks like Kill Cliff? Are they included?


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