The following guest blog is part of our Cafeteria Stories series, highlighting the efforts of hard working school nutrition professionals who are dedicated to making the healthy choice the easy choice at schools across the country. We thank them for sharing their stories!
By Tom Adam, Physical Education Teacher and Wellness Champion at Spout Springs School of Enrichment
Those of us who work in schools know that the lunch line is not the only place where kids get their calories at school. That’s why we were pleased to see the USDA Smart Snacks in School standards go into effect last summer, which applied to food and beverages sold outside of the school meals program, including in-school fundraisers.
Spout Springs School of Enrichment wasn’t worried about meeting the new standards. For the past few years, our school traded food-based fundraisers for our annual Seminole Sprint, a fun run organized by our Parent Teacher Organization, which has raised more than $40,000 in one day to benefit our school!
While Georgia allows a certain number of school-sponsored fundraisers from Smart Snack standards, here at Spout Springs in Flowery Branch, we believe it’s important to send a consistent message to our students that healthy behaviors don’t stop when they leave the cafeteria or the school campus.
Our community agrees with us. The Seminole Sprint has grown in popularity (and in fundraising!) each year that we’ve hosted it. That’s due, in part, to our promotion of the event. We hold a pep rally, provide t-shirts to participants, and even hire a DJ to pump up the excitement. Parents and community members are invited to support the students, cheering them on and reinforcing that it’s fun to be fit.
As a Physical Education Teacher, nothing brings me greater joy than watching our kids have fun while learning to be healthy. And I know that the more active they are now, the more likely they are to carry their healthy habits into adulthood. In Georgia, 35 percent of children between the ages of 10 and 17 are overweight or obese – making us the tenth most obese state in the country. It’s time to change that.
I’m proud of the way my school has been able to change its culture, specifically around using healthy activities to raise money, which reinforces the nutritious meals and ample physical activity our students receive during the school day.
Your school can change the way you fundraise, too. Follow my tips to get started:
- Review the USDA’s guidance on Smart Snacks in School fundraisers.
- Empower your Parent Teacher Organization or School Wellness Council to come up with creative ideas to raise money while setting a healthy example. Check out the Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s alternative fundraising ideas.
- Get the word out: Invite the community, heavily promote the event, and encourage your staff to get involved.
Start making your school a healthier environment where students can learn, grow, and thrive by joining the Alliance’s Healthy Schools Program. Sign up today at schools.healthiergeneration.org.