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Non-profits rely on donations and sponsors to provide funding and resources so they can do good work across the country. But what happens when a sponsor’s business undermines a non-profit’s mission?
It’s no secret that sugary drink companies donate large sums of money to health foundations. The annual conference of the National Hispanic Medical Association (NHMA) took place last March, and Coca Cola was one of the event sponsors. California Health Care Foundation president Sandra Hernandez, who gave a keynote speech, noted the irony of Coke’s presence at the health-oriented event.
According to an article in New American Media, Hernandez ditched her prepared speech and instead spoke about the science of sugar as a chief cause of obesity, telling the packed room, “We will not exercise our way out of sugar addiction.”
Discussing the conference afterward, she said, “One of the biggest public health issues facing our country today is the obesity epidemic. It has economic implications, it has health care implications, it has quality of life implications. We’re expending enormous amounts of health care costs to treat all of the conditions that are exacerbated by the obesity epidemic, to which sugar is a contributing factor.”
She acknowledges the dilemma NHMA and others face. The Latino community has been a prime target for many sugary drink companies, research shows.
“For me, the Coca Cola folks being there was not the problem,” she says. “It’s the notion that if we don’t actually see with clarity that sugary drinks are a huge contributing factor to the obesity epidemic, and talk about it explicitly so people can see it for what it is, then we’ve missed an incredible opportunity to think about leadership. Because leadership takes on top issues, and Coca Cola is deeply culturally embedded in our communities.”
With experts like Hernandez bringing these issues to light, conversations can begin about how to navigate this tricky issue.
Read more in New American Media here.
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