Day 90–Healthier School Fundraisers and Wellness, Part 2

Chocolate chip cookie dough.

It all started with cookie dough. And a well-intentioned effort to raise money for a good cause (See post here).

Now, let me say uprfront, I am not the food police and I am not against a good cookie. In fact, I love cookies. Personally, I don’t buy store bought cookies or cookie dough because I don’t think they taste anywhere near as good as homemade. But that’s me. If you want to eat nothing but commercial cookie dough 24/7, that is your business. Enjoy!

But when teachers and parents spend valuable time teaching young people to make good food choices to reduce childhood obesity and diabetes, it doesn’t make sense to me to send those same children out to sell 3 pound tubs of high fat cookie dough (or chocolate bars or McDonalds gift cards) to their families and neighbors.  We don’t tell them to not smoke, then send them out to sell ashtrays and lighters, right? Young people pay attention. They are watching us. They see us talking the talk, but walking to Krispie Kreme…for money to pay for playground equipment…so kids don’t get fat. Say what???

I may be resisting giant tubs of raw cookie dough, but the good news is, I am not alone! I spent yesterday morning at a healthy fundraiser workshop sponsored by Advocates for Health in Action and came away with many great ideas as well as contacts with other parents and teachers who are involved in school wellness. The good news is that there are lots of creative, non-food options out there for raising funds. The challenge is going to be putting together a team of parents, students and teachers and developing a couple of target initiatives for the coming school year. Here are some things I learned:

  • My county actually has a wellness policy (WCPSS Wellness Policy 5125). While the policy doesn’t give guidance on the nutitional value of foods sold as fundraisers, it does provide some guidance about food in the school. This includes not using food as a reward for student achievement.
  • 49.5% of 12-18 year olds in NC are overweight or obese. I’m not math girl, but that is one out of every two teens in my state!
  • In 2010, North Carolina spent $107.18 million to treat medical conditions related to children with diabetes, high weight and inactive lifestyles. That is just children–not adults!

So what is a PTA, booster club, or youth league to do? There are plenty of options available! Here is a sampling of what I discovered:

  • Fun runs, walks, bike-a-thons take a lot of work by volunteers, but they can be very lucrative for schools.
  • Selling flowers, plants, rain barrels or delivered mulch can tie into a school’s gardening efforts and encourage environmental awareness. One local high school is selling mulch that is delivered and spread by the football team!
  • Selling coupon books, magazines, and school spirit apparel raise money without any large deliveries of goods required.
  • Talent shows, plays, dances and concerts highlight student achievement and give young people a chance to shine. Depending on the community, they can also help foster relationships with nearby neighborhoods.
  • In our area, The Produce Box offers a fundraiser vegetable box!

The workshop also addressed the issue of concession sales at games and/or meets. The goal with concessions is not to take away all the unhealthy options, but to offer healthier options, make them more convenient and price them a bit lower than unhealthy options. What might these include?

  • Soft pretzles
  • Low-fat popcorn
  • Tortilla chips with salsa
  • Sandwiches
  • Turkey burgers
  • Fresh fruit
  • Fruit kabobs
  • String cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Trail mix
  • Water
  • 100% vegetable juice
  • Unsweetened bottled tea

I also learned a great deal about wellness grants available in my community that pay for anything from athletic equipment to healthy food tastings.

Clearly, there is life beyond the cookie dough!