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December 01, 2012

Selling cheesecake to fight childhood obesity and other tales of grown-up insanity

Cheesecake_flickr
By Ken's Oven

By Leslie Crawford, Senior Editor

Talk about taking three steps backward to go two steps forward. This mom's school fundraising grievance really takes the cheesecake. Jessica Garrison writes about how she and other parents at her children's L.A.U.S.D. public school will be packing on the pounds this holiday season to - get this - support her school's anti-obesity program.

Here's her twisted tale: Aldama Elementary school administrators all but forbid running to prevent injuries. (Like lots of urban elementary schools, Aldama only has a blacktop, no grassy field.) Although parents pleaded to let their kids run free, the administration remained unmoved. (When she asked her kindergarten-aged son what the purpose of school was, he answered: "No running.")

Then the PTA found a way to work around the considerable modern-day forces of hyper-safety, non-existent budgets, and skyrocketing childhood obesity: they'd hire a non-profit (PlayWorks) to oversee running games during recess. But Playworks doesn't come cheap - they charge about $25,500 - per year. The solution? The parents launched a super-sized fundraiser selling something that American families are loath to forgo: sugar and fat! The whole school has refashioned itself into a cheesecake cartel. They've been wildly successful, raising $14,000 worth of distending dessert this fall alone.

Hey, I know the score. We PTO parents try. We try so hard, even when what we're doing makes little sense. We buy reams of ugly wrapping paper so our children can get that cool environmental ed program to teach them about all the reasons not to waste paper. We fill goodie bags with candy so the children get a reward for their one-mile fun run. We spend hours upon hours of our time organizing a carpool to a nature museum, only to hear the kids report that their favorite part was watching the banana slugs while they had their snack in the parking lot.

It's when I reflect on these crazy contradictions that I wonder: when are we grown-ups going to take the advice we give our children and think before we act? 

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Comments

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I find it interesting that a school with an involved parent culture can not get donations for something like a spelling bee or something similar.

My daughter's elementary school tried a "Tri-R-Athon" where kids read, did 'rithmetic, and ran laps as a fundraiser that did so well, within a few years, they abandoned the giftwrap sale.

But, no one said you had to eat the whole cheesecake. Parents could use such treats at family gatherings or celebrations.

While LAUSD teachers can teach PE, many schools opt to find money to hire outside vendors so that the teachers can have grade level planning.

I don't ever blame a school community for finding a way to make it work. This school just needs to decide if they don't want to apologize for selling cheesecake if it works, or abandon the cheesecake and really encourage a healthy culture. I support them either way for making it better for the kids.

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