Health Cops Tell Schools To Cook Up Alternatives To Bake Sales

As part of its never-ending battle of the bulge, New York’s health police have found a new target: bake sales that schools use as fund raising events. The sales have already been limited to once a month, and barred during school hours. Now, the city’s Health Department has warned parents that they need to look for other ways to raise dough.

The city agency has issued a booklet called “Yes, You Can! A Fresh Look at Healthy Fundraisers for Schools.” Some of the suggested alternatives to cookies and cake include flowers, jewelry and student photos.

WNYC turned up the heat to find out whether or not the idea is half-baked:

Cathy Nonas, the Health Department’s director of physical activity and nutritional programs, says the goal is to get schools used to the idea of “non-food fundraising” and “to reduce that idea that the only way that you can make money and the easiest way you can make money is through bake sales or food sales in general.”

Here’s where you may be thinking, “Good luck with that.” But Nonas says many of the tips actually came from parent groups at three schools in and around Harlem. One of them is Central Park East II. Parent Association President Yhane Smith says the school has held some pretty lucrative non-food fundraisers.

“[On] picture day we raised a thousand dollars. I’m gonna estimate. We had a raffle, we raised $4,500,” Smith says. When asked what they raffled off to raise that much in $2 tickets she said, “Yankees tickets. Really good Yankees tickets.”

While parents acknowledge the need to prevent childhood obesity, not everyone is on board with the idea. “I wanted to do a chocolate fundraiser for right before Easter,” one parent said she told her child’s principal. “And she was like, ‘No you can’t do chocolate. It’s against our health and wellness policy,’ and I was like, ‘But it’s going to make lots of money,’” The parent eventually relented, giving in to the school’s policy.

Bake-Sale Battle: Health Department Suggests Non-Food Fundraisers for Schools [WNYC]
“Yes, You Can! A Fresh Look at Healthy Fundraisers for Schools.” [NYC Dept. of Health (PDF)]