Pharos-Tribune

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September 22, 2013

For fundraisers, let's bag the junk

(Continued)

This is due in no small part to a dedicated group of nutrition bloggers who don’t aspire to being food nags but want school to be a place where good nutrition habits are both preached and practiced.

“Two years ago, my oldest child was in kindergarten and I was so frustrated by all the junk food at school. It seemed like every week there was a birthday party, a bake sale,” noted Stacy Whitman, a mother of three elementary school students in Sun Valley, Idaho. “It seemed like such a disconnect because we live in a very healthy, progressive health conscious ski resort and the school was not a reflection of that.”

“It’s a mixed message that we’re sending our kids. We tell them it’s important to feed their body healthy foods then we ask them to go out and sell junk food,” she added.

Though Whitman approached a few moms about her concerns and they responded with “‘Oh well, don’t bother doing anything about it, it’ll never change,’” she recently joined her school’s parent-teacher association and has been blogging about how other parents can do the same. The goal: change the culture of resorting to the easy fundraiser “that was done last year and is ready to go for this year.”

On the “Bag the Junk” blog, Whitman post tips such as “find allies who value healthy eating — your school nurse, wellness committee members, teachers, parents or a local nutritionist — and ask them to come with you to talk to your PTA” and “Be careful not to offend anyone by sounding critical of their food choices. Instead, stick to the facts.” And, she told me, you have to be nice and keep going.

“I sat at my first PTA board meeting last week and was afraid to bring it up myself — and that’s the whole reason I joined the board!” Whitman said, referring to her charm offensive to win over the school’s planners with fresh ideas and offers to take on the fundraising workload. “But there’s a lot of positive momentum and the conversation has started. Now it’s up to parents to go in, slowly create good will around proposed changes and roll up our sleeves.”

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