CHICAGO, March 18, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- To support the more than 114,000 Illinois residents who are directly and indirectly employed by the non-alcoholic beverage industry, a diverse coalition of Chicagoland neighborhood groups, small businesses, labor unions and chambers of commerce have joined to form the We Deliver in Chicago (WDC) coalition. The coalition of more than 350 members represents businesses and community organizations large and small, with locations spanning the region. By working with partners in every neighborhood, meeting with local elected officials and raising awareness of numerous industry-led initiatives, the coalition seeks to demonstrate the industry's century-long commitment to Illinois.
"As an organizational member of the Little Village business community, we're proud to be members of the We Deliver Chicago coalition. Real improvements in our local economy come through strong community partnerships. It is here where we find solutions. In our local communities, we have been more effective at working together to achieve results. It's that simple,"
said Nilda Esparza, Executive Director for the Little Village Chamber of Commerce.
The industry plays a vital role in the Illinois economy, providing 114,126 beverage-related jobs which generate $6.2 billion in wages annually, providing a state economic impact totaling $21.1 billion. The beverage industry and its employees are active members of local communities and schools they serve, having donated $41.6 million to charitable causes across the state.
"The beverage industry has a long history of being active in the community," said Blevian Moore, Executive Director of the South Holland Business Association. "Members of this coalition understand what it takes to foster economic development; and We Deliver in Chicago helps bring together local companies, workers and community members to address the common economic challenges and opportunities we face."Reflecting the industry's enduring efforts to promote active lifestyles and wellness, beverage companies have introduced more low- and no-calorie beverages and reduced the average calories per serving by 23% since 1998. Forty-five percent of beverages purchased today are zero calories. The industry has undertaken a number of health initiatives including:
- National School Beverage Guidelines: The American Beverage Association voluntarily removed full calorie sodas from schools across the nation and has reduced beverage calories shipped to schools by 90 percent since 2004.
- Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative: The American Beverage Association was among the first to sign on to the Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative launched by the Council of Better Business Bureaus and has decreased advertising to children for soft drinks by 96 percent.
- Calories Count Vending Program: Beginning in Chicago municipal buildings and expanding to other cities, vending machines will display calorie counts on selection buttons, reminding consumers that calories count when making a beverage choice. In addition, the City of Chicago launched a Wellness Challenge in fall of 2012 providing employees a wellness assessment, health risks coaching, and tracking of body weight, food services and exercise.
- Clear on Calories: By providing packaging with clear calorie labels, the beverage industry has made calorie information readily available to consumers before they purchase a product.