Informed by research showing that taxation of unhealthy foods may reduce their consumption, the Navajo Nation authorized an additional 2% sales tax on unhealthy foods and sugar-sweetened beverages in 2014. This was the first junk food tax ever to be enacted in the country, with proceeds used to fund community-based wellness programs. It also removed the sales tax on healthy foods on the reservation, such as produce and water.
Launched with a challenge grant from the SMSC’s Seeds of Native Health campaign, First Nations Development Institute formed a unique funding collaborative to support the Diné Community Advocacy Alliance (DCAA) in its efforts to assist the tribal government in implementing this innovative healthy foods legislation.
Besides the SMSC, the funding collaborative included the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Christensen Fund, and an anonymous private donor, providing a combined gift of $262,000. With this support, DCAA works to ensure that Navajo chapters on the geographically large reservation can access funds to create healthy living programs, as well as ensure accurate tax compliance, conduct public education, assist retail vendors, and evaluate the effectiveness of the tax.