Wake County Schools

Health council wants to bar candy fundraisers in Wake schools

Posted March 5, 2013 1:08 p.m. EST
Updated March 5, 2013 7:06 p.m. EST

— The days of candy fundraisers and bake sales could be numbered in Wake County public schools.

The Wake County Board of Education is expected to hear a proposal Tuesday night that would eliminate school fundraisers that involve unhealthy food and beverages in an effort to encourage and support a healthy lifestyle.

The Wake County School Health Advisory Council, which has submitted the proposal, says that "asking students and families to sell such items puts parents who try to practice healthy habits in a difficult position as they strive to support the school."

The 18-member council is comprised of community representatives in areas that include education, health, law, media and business.

The plan, however, does not recommend how schools could make up for the potentially thousands of dollars they could lose as a result.

Proceeds from the sales typically go to help fund athletic equipment and extra-curricular activities.

Last year at Athens Drive High School in Raleigh, for example, concession sales raised about $25,000 to pay for the landscaping of athletic fields as well as sports equipment.

"We would not have green grass. We would not have our beautiful new football goals or our regulation soccer goals," said Shannondoah Deaver, president of the Athens Drive booster club.

Deaver says she worries that concession sales could plummet if the board enacts a ban on unhealthy food and beverages.

"It's not fair to the students," she said. "These kids come to school daily, and for a lot, (extra-curricular activities) are the best thing they have in their lives."

But Larry Bauder, chairman of the health advisory council, says the proposal is about providing better snack alternatives to students, not controlling what they eat.

"We’d like to make sure people have an opportunity to make healthy choices," he said. "There are other ways to raise money for schools, and it would be nice to look at alternatives."

Some clubs and athletic groups have already started trying to find other fundraising alternatives. For example, Broughton High School's band sells citrus fruit and will be selling mattresses. Athens Drive's lacrosse team sells mulch and pinestraw.

School board Vice Chairwoman Christine Kushner says the board will look at the practicality of the matter but that it doesn't want to undercut the boosters.

Schools in several other states, including California, Colorado, Mississippi and Texas, already have regulations aimed at promoting healthy eating.