by KIM HILSENBECK
School districts across the state are finding new and different ways to incorporate healthy living habits, including not using food as an incentive. In the past, schools or individual teachers might offer pizza or ice cream parties, pieces of candy or other sweet treats to entice (i.e., bribe) students.
Many Hays CISD school also had food-related fundraisers – cookie dough and candy were among the most popular and frequently lucrative.
Because of the obesity data shared at the Hays CISD Obesity Summit last spring showing about 30 percent of its students as overweight or obese, administrators and teachers are seeking innovative idea, including removing food as a reward for good behavior and developing non-food related fundraisers.
Teachers and administrators are now finding new treats.
One such idea was shared by Mary Longloy, principal of Redlands Oaks Elementary in North Texas. She, along with the school’s PTA wellness chair, Julie Copeland, visited Hays CISD in November for a Fit Kids Collaborative – a day long event held at the Performing Arts Center.
Representatives from New Braunfels, Del Valle, Leander, Georgetown, Comal and Hays, along with the Texas Agrilife Extension of Texas A&M, gathered for a day of sharing, idea generation and show and tell.
One of Longloy’s ideas was Spirit Sticks – little embroidered collectable tags that recognize a student’s accomplishments without resorting to empty calories.
She also had thoughts on healthy food fundraisers, including fruit, herb garden kits, smoothies and health-focused cookbooks.
Several schools within Hays CISD this year opted for non-food related fundraisers. Carpenter Hill Elementary raised more than $15,000 with a “fun run” where students sought donations per lap.
Other non-food fundraising ideas from Longloy and Copeland included game nights, magazine subscriptions, plants or seeds, auctions and recycling programs.
The Hays CISD food service vendor, Southwest Food Excellence, may soon roll out a new service for parents that provides healthier food items for in-school birthday celebrations and non-food treats such as pencils and stickers.