LH Collaborative encourages a Soda-Free Summer

By Taylor Engle
La Habra Journal

Two years ago, the La Habra Collaborative launched its first ever Move More Eat Healthy Movement, an initiative aimed to help reduce obesity in children and adults. The movement saw such positive response that the Collaborative was led to begin its Soda Free Summer 2017.
The Collaborative sat down with St. Jude’s Hospital to come up with the idea of having children and adults sign a pledge stating that they would try their best to not drink soda the entire summer. Participants were rewarded with a baby blue wristband to signify their allegiance.
Participants are taking the initiative seriously, but so is the entire city. The City of La Habra wrote and signed a proclamation dedicated to a Soda Free Summer.
“The dates are from June 20 to September 23—basically from when kids got out of school until they go back,” said Executive Director of the La Habra Collaborative Sandi Baltes.
La Habra’s schools are already soda free, so it made sense to begin the initiative. Additionally, any meeting held by the city of La Habra is requested to be soda free.
“We have collected well above 1500 signatures so far of people promising they will not have soda over the summer,” Baltes said.
A few years ago, St. Jude’s Hospital conducted a study revealing La Habra as the third worst city when it comes to child obesity. Sugar is a big cause, and soda is a big source of sugar.
“A can of soda has seven and a half teaspoons of sugar and the American Heart Association recommends you have no more than six teaspoons a day, and here we are with one soft drink exceeding that,” Baltes said. “So that’s a big source of sugar.”
The aim of the initiative is not only to fight obesity but to bring awareness about health to the community.
“I think soft drinks are very bad for your teeth and your health, but mostly I’m concerned about obesity,” Baltes said. “Every year fifth and sixth graders have to do the Fitness Gram. La Habra has not done well in the past, but recently we’re starting to see improvement.”
Although the focus is on children, the Soda Free Summer is well supported by adults throughout the city. Amidst the 1500 pledges are Baltes, owner of Lady Bug Pest Control Diego Hernandez and wife Tambi, city councilmen Tom Beamish and Michael Blazey, business manager of Our Lady of Guadalupe Scott Miller, Recreation Manager David DeLeon, LHCSD superintendent Dr. Joan Culverhouse, realtor Carrie Surich, and even La Habra Journal Editor Jay Seidel and his wife Jennifer.
All of these citizens have pledged to be soda-free for the summer and many of them are reporting weight loss and feelings of overall health. Blazey is proud to say he hasn’t had his favorite soda in over two weeks.
For the future, the Collaborative plans to continue their efforts to promote health in the community.
The goal for fall 2017 is to get into fast food restaurants such as McDonald’s or Carl’s Jr. and ask that the default drink on the kids’ menu not be soda. While they don’t have an agreement confirmed, the fast food chains have been responsive so far.
For more information about the challenge or about the La Habra Collaborative, go to the organization’s website at lahaboracollaborative.org.


Started in 1995, the La Habra Journal is an independent community news source serving the cities of La Habra and La Habra Heights.