Junk food fundraising in the schools used to be a widely popular and common tool to raise money. I remember selling the large packs of Hershey’s products along with the Christmas wrapping papers each year. And perhaps 20 years ago, it was no big deal.
However, in the recent years, many parents are starting to ask the question if this is really the best option for raising funds. Do American families really need any more opportunities to consume nutrient-deficient foods?
The first few years my girls were in elementary school, they came home with the junk food fundraising brochures and all the excitement of trying to earn the prizes for their sales. I felt terrible not being able to encourage their ambition. I could not, with a clear conscience, sell something I knew was terrible for people’s health. So my girls would have to take back their empty sales pages.
But last year was different. I was so excited to learn that our school was no longer doing multiple fundraisers throughout the year (including the junk food ones). They were going to try a single fundraising event called a Boosterthon Fun-Run.
The fun-run encourages kids to get financial sponsors for each lap that they run on the designated day. Part of the program also encourages kids to embody different leadership principles and qualities. Now this was something I could get behind!
My girls were so excited to be able to call family members and describe what they were doing. They also practiced running laps around our neighborhood block to get their bodies ready. What mom would not get excited about that?!
In the end, our school saw enough funds come in that they are doing it again this year. I am so thankful for the change!
I realize, though, that not all schools are there yet. Here are some helpful things that you can do to encourage change.
What You Can Do If Your School Is Still Junk Food Fundraising
- Talk with your school’s PTA (Parent Teacher Association) board. Share your concerns, and share some alternative ideas. (ie. Boosterthon Fun Run)
- When your kids bring home the junk food brochures, attach a sizeable check to the school along with a note that says, “Please let me know of ways that I can support healthier fundraisers.” (I stole this great idea from Esther Cepeda’s article.)
- Talk with your kids, and perhaps help them to come up with some healthier ways to raise money for their school. Encourage their creativity and support their efforts!