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Food fundraisers to make healthy comeback at Turlock schools

Raising money for school trips just got a little bit easier for Turlock Unified School District students as the Board of Trustees voted earlier this month to put food and beverages back on the menu for school fundraisers.

“I just wanted to thank you for looking at it and coming up with out-of -the-box thinking for this,” said Board member Jennifer Carter to Child Nutrition Director Scott Soiseth. “I know several kids who utilize this program for senior trips, so it was something the students really wanted.”

Under the previous local wellness policy, fundraising activities that support children’s health and school nutrition-education efforts were prohibited from involving food or beverages from midnight to one-half hour after school.

Following action taken by the Board of Trustees during their Nov. 17 meeting, students will now be allowed to host school fundraising activities with food or beverages that follow California Assembly Bill 626 guidelines from midnight to one-half hour after school.

Only effective during or after school hours, AB 626 effectively eliminated snack box fundraisers two years ago and forced TUSD student organizations to think outside of the box—literally—in order to raise money for school activities.

“At the time we just decided it would be appropriate to say that we are not going to have food as fundraisers during the school day,” said Soiseth in September. “It was almost nonexistent anyways with those guidelines.”

The extermination of snack box fundraisers undeniably dealt a hard blow to students, especially Pitman High School seniors. In 2013-14, these students were able to raise $9,900 from snack box fundraisers, which helped fund their senior trip.

Soiseth said that the goal of this change is to increase fundraising opportunities for students during the school day that support their participation and engagement in co-curricular and extra-curricular programs.

“If it makes it easier for them, we’ll certainly support them in any way that we can,” said Soiseth.

Child Nutrition will offer five nutritionally-approved items to school sites for consideration and the sites will choose three of the items to either sell individually or in a snack pack. Items selected for fundraising will be removed from school menus.

Soiseth said that Child Nutrition will provide the fundraising items to the student organization at cost or the organization can purchase the same product on their own to ensure equal nutritional value. Monitoring of fundraising activities will be maintained by site administration.

A list of items for acceptable fundraising items is available on the Child Nutrition website: Schools will still encourage fundraising activities that promote physical activity.