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FIRST 5 provides healthful food for families while getting rid of unwanted sodaLast Friday and Saturday FIRST 5 Santa Clara County hosted two Soda Exchange events at local farmers’ markets.
Cupertino’s Vallco Farmers’ Market and San Jose’s Hanchett Farmers’ Market drew dozens of families and children who brought their unopened soda cans and bottles in exchange for cash vouchers that were used to buy fresh fruits and vegetables at the farmers’ market.
Children and families were greeted by FIRST 5 staff with free strawberry- and lemon-infused water and given a Potter the Otter – A Tale about Water children’s books.  By the end of the weekend, FIRST 5 collected over 250 bottles and cans which amounted to over 3,500 fluid ounces, or about 28 gallons, of soda.
The exchanges, in partnership with the Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association, were the first of its kind aimed at promoting water consumption among young children as well as the local farmers’ markets.  “By promoting water and healthy foods to children FIRST 5 is working hard to turn the tide in childhood obesity in our community,” said Jolene Smith, CEO of FIRST 5.
The average 4 and 5 year old consumes 17 teaspoons of added sugar a day from soda, sugar-sweetened beverages, high fat desserts, and candy. According to the California Center for Public Health Advocacy 4 out of 10 children in Santa Clara County drink one or more sodas, or other sugar-sweetened beverages, per day.  

Most sugar-sweetened beverages have no nutritive value and are linked to obesity.
The Soda Exchanges launched the same day The New England Journal of Medicine published three studies that further link consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages to obesity among children, adolescents, and adults. In an 18-month randomized experiment involving children ages 4 to 12, those who drank sugary beverages weighed two pounds heavier on average than the control group who drank sugar-free beverages. In response to the study’s results, Dr. David Ludwig of Boston Children’s Hospital and the Harvard School of Public Health said, “I know of no other single food product whose elimination can produce this degree of weight change.”


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