1. King-size gas station candy is disgusting. Do you know what’s in a king-size package of Reese’s cups? 407 calories, 37.26 grams of sugar and 24.12 grams of fat, that’s what. We have a child obesity epidemic in this country, and rather than having a wellness-based fundraiser like, say, a walk-a-thon (where the school profits on almost 100% of the donations), we are filling our cupboards with enough chocolate to break a young, healthy pancreas. And it’s not even good chocolate! The school used to sell human-portioned chocolate bars from a small, family-owned company where you at least felt good about supporting a local business and purchasing something with a high-quality, small batch message. But this? If I can buy it at Sheetz, I don’t want to buy it from a second-grader.
2. The school only makes half the profit and parents have to hound acquaintances to buy overpriced shit they don’t need or want. I know you have to spend money to make money, and I’m sure product sales offer a quick-turn opportunity for schools to make a decent amount of money in a short period of time (uh... three weeks for us with little advance notice that this big spending was coming right before a major holiday) with very little effort. But it sure is putting a lot of effort and expense on the parents (many of whom, mind you, have multiple kids and are in a public school system to begin with because they can’t afford a lot of out-of-pocket school expenses.) In most product-based fundraisers, the school only makes $0.55 – $0.65 to the dollar… you can certainly see how it leaves many parents thinking, “Can I just pay the school $30 instead of buying $60 worth of chocolate?”
Oh, and at $2 a bar, gargantuan gas station candy bars that represent a quarter of your daily calorie intake aren’t so easy to push off on coworkers in today’s corporate offices where employees are more interested in Fitbit challenges and paleo recipe swaps than they are in increasing their risk of heart disease.
And no coins? Uh, money is money. Take what you get, jerks. You don’t want coins? Get someone who earns more than pocket money and keeps it in something more sensible than a piggy bank to sell your wares.
4. My kids are pulled out of their educational setting to attend a gruesome sales rally.
I have to sign a permission slip essentially to let my child sneeze on school grounds, but somehow the fact that a salesperson from some slimy company is coming into the school, cutting into my child’s learning time, and pumping them up to sell! sell! sell! with flashy (impossible to earn) incentives is not something I get a chance to consent to?
Unless we’re trying for another generation of Beachbody coaches, this is not good use of classroom time.
5. Offering sales incentives to children is not appropriate and you should be ashamed. Speaking of those incentives, let me just rattle off what the kiddos have a chance of “earning” by hocking king-sized gas station candy: a squish backpack clip (for selling $60 worth), a Silly String the Principal party AND a squish backpack clip (for selling $120 worth), a field trip to an arcade (for selling $180 worth), a chance to win a trip to a water park PLUS a squish backpack clip (for selling $240 worth), a 5-lb chocolate bar (for selling $360 worth) and, finally, an Apple watch (for being the top seller AND selling $420 worth.)
There is so much wrong with every single part of that list that I’m just going to leave it there for you to unpack. Instead, let me take a half a second to demonstrate, mathematically, why this is cruel to our kids.
According to city data, there are 300 students enrolled at the elementary school in my village. If they each get a box of 30 candy bars to sell, that’s 9,000 $2 king-size candy bars… to sell in a village with a population of 3,100. How many of those 3,100 villagers have a kid, grandkid, niece or nephew, or neighbor in the school? I don’t care how awesome the sales rally was, unless your mommy and daddy are rich enough to buy hundreds of dollars worth of fuck-off gas station candy bars, you’re getting a squish toy at best… which I can buy for $3 at the mall.
6. It only reinforces that rich kids win stuff and poor kids get nothing but shame.
So the middle class kids whose parents have white collar jobs get to shove their boxes into their parents’ hands, forget about it for three weeks and collect their “earnings” when incentive day comes. Woohoo! Of course, the working class kids get to have difficult and defining conversations with their parents who don’t have coworkers, friends or relatives who can afford to drop $10 on every kid who’s selling something that week. Those parents have to say, “I’m sorry” and “no” and “ we can’t” and “you don’t get to have the prize.” And those kids get to hear, “I’m not good enough” and “I’m not as worthy as those kids.” I guess it’s good training for when the rich kids get hooked up with sweet internships in college through their parents’ networks and the poor kids get jack shit yet again?
7. School’s out in one month, so…. Listen, we’re getting down to the wire here. I can barely stomach rifling through the “take home” papers every day and forcing my kid to write his spelling words twice in half-legible writing at this point in the school year. Now is not a good time to rally the troops, smash through some forced sales goals and shell out tons o’ cash for oversized junk food I don’t allow my kids to eat anyway. Too late, you should have caught me in early October.
Schools need the money they get through fundraising. They need it and they deserve it. I support it. But we can do better.