A junk food tax is one step closer to becoming law on the Navajo Nation after being approved by the Nation Council on last week.
The Healthy Diné Nation Act will add a two percent tax to sweetened beverages and salty, fatty foods with low nutrient value.
Council Delegate Danny Simpson sponsored the legislation after consulting with the Diné Community Advocacy Alliance, a grassroots organization focused on health.
“The main focus of the legislation is to cause an awareness and a discussion about the health crisis that we have on the reservation,“ said Denisa Livingston, a member of the Diné Community Advocacy Alliance.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, many parts of the Navajo Nation are considered a food desert where access to affordable healthy food is limited.
Revenue from the new tax will fund a variety of initiatives, such as community gardens, parks and health education classes. At this point, there are no estimations on how much money the tax could bring in, Livingston said.
“We hope for people to lead healthier lifestyles through the community directed wellness projects,” Livingston said.
The council also passed legislation to eliminate a five percent sales tax on fresh produce and other healthy foods. This was the second time legislation regarding food taxes was brought to the council. An earlier attempt was voted down in August 2013.
President Ben Shelley must review the bills within 10 days of passage and decide whether to sign them in to law.