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What Role Does a Cupcake Shop Have in the Childhood Obesity Prevention Movement?


Many of you participated in the summer campaign launched on along with the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity and Sugar Free Kids. Nearly 21,000 Supporters pledged to take one action that reduced children’s intake of sugary drinks in their communities.

What you might not realize is that the staff managing took action too. Director of Digital Strategy Dawn Arteaga pledged to petition her neighborhood café to replace the sugary drinks on display for children and replace them with healthier alternatives.

Curbside Café is the storefront version of what started as a cupcake truck in 2009. Curbside Cupcakes is still one of Washington, D.C.’s many food trucks. The company also has a location in a popular D.C. market.

“I love taking my kids to Curbside Café, which is the closest café to our house,” Dawn said. “While I’ve only let my kids try a cupcake-pop once, we enjoy spending lazy Saturdays there where we take advantage of other items on the menu like the kale salad, the chicken salad wrap and ice water. What I don’t love is that the only kids’ drinks on display are sugary juice drinks and vanilla and chocolate milk.”

For the next few weeks, every time Dawn patronized the café, she asked staff if they would consider swapping out the kids’ beverages for ones with no added sugar. The third time, she met one of the owners, Kristi Cunningham Whitfield.

“I knew some of the fruit punch drinks had sugar, but I had no idea how much sugar was in that vanilla milk!,” Kristi told Dawn. “As soon as I realized that, I immediately started investigating new vendors for our children’s beverages.”

The last time Dawn went to visit the café she was delighted to see low-fat milk and 100 percent fruit juice occupying the space that had once been held by sugary drinks.

“I’m not sure you can really say I’m doing much to prevent obesity,” Kristi admits. After all, her café specializes in cupcakes.

Dawn disagrees. “We all have a role to play in creating a healthier culture for children. Even cupcake shops!”