PTSA, athletic associations fearful of fundraising impact with school crackdown on candy

The Seminole County School District is cracking down on candy. That’s after a family complained about their son buying too many snacks at school.

Parents, coaches, and kids are now worried they won’t be able to effectively raise money.  Seminole County Public Schools (SCPS) says it isn’t trying to be mean – it’s enforcing federal rules. Schools can get hit with massive penalties if they don’t do so. 

This all started when a 6th-grade boy bought five packets of candy in one day. 

His parents wrote to Lawton Chiles Middle School and the Seminole County School District demanding candy stop being offered at school shops.

"... We have been pleased with the caliber of teachers, administration, and the academic/sports programs. This situation, however, has permanently marred our perception of SCPS. It represents a complete dereliction of duty," Lisa Karel wrote in an email to the District.

The Seminole County School District told me the USDA’s Smart Snack Guidelines also mean kids can’t sell those classic chocolate bars on campus. 

Mackenzie Pletcher says that’s how her weightlifting team pays for uniforms and transportation to competitions.

"I feel like the thing everyone’s mind goes to when they think of fundraising is those little boxes of chocolates," said Pletcher. "It’s easier for kids who maybe don’t have the ability to ask people close to them for donations."

Sharmon Craft says the athletic booster organization where she volunteers has been selling snacks at Lyman High School for 17 years.

Those sales have paid for scholarships, new fencing, new scoreboards, new team equipment – you name it.

"If you have a problem with your child eating certain things, try to teach them self-control. That comes from home, from Mom and Dad. The school can’t do everything and be everything for your child," said Craft. 

The Seminole County School District says organizations like Craft’s that have stores set up within schools can still sell snacks like crackers and fruit.

"Yes, we do have some of those options available at our table. I will tell you they are not very popular," said Craft.

Jeannine Osgood is with the Parent, Teacher, and Student Association (PTSA) at Hagerty High School. She told FOX 35 News she believes the change to the school stores is going to result in an irreplaceable loss of revenue.

"Our school store at Hagerty was by far the largest fundraiser we had. It funded senior scholarships, clothing/formalwear for students who couldn’t afford it, grants for special projects in teacher classrooms, teacher appreciation activities, the Reflections Program (an art-focused program), and The Lunch Bunch (a group of current students at Hagerty who sit with incoming freshmen and new students who might not have made friends yet). Without this fundraiser, I don’t know what we’ll do for our kids," Osgood told FOX 35 News in a statement.

Hagerty and Craft both also mentioned that the school stores are also a place where some students go just to see a smiling face.

"Through the years, I have interacted with so many students. Some come and go, some chat and joke, and some feel more comfortable sitting and talking to us while they eat. Regardless of the situation, we always have positive interactions," said Hagerty.

"We have links to fundraising ideas as well as products available to purchase for re-sale that do meet the Smart Snack guidelines to help our schools and groups like the PTSA who conduct sales to raise money," the Seminole County Public School District told FOX 35.