The idea that Box Tops for Education should be eliminated as a California source of funding due to obesity concerns is something that is hard to fathom. AB 841 is a California Assembly Bill that should not pass considering the benefits that Box Tops bring to California Schools.

"This bill would prohibit, except as provided, a school or school district from advertising food or beverages or the corporate brand of the food or beverages, as provided. The bill would prohibit, except as provided, a school or school district from participating in a corporate incentive program that rewards pupils with free or discounted foods or beverage when the pupils reach certain academic goals or that provides funds to schools in exchange for consumer purchases of foods and beverages, as provided. The bill would define "advertising," "brand," and "food or beverage" for these purposes. The bill would provide that it is the intent of the Legislature that the governing board of a school district annually review its compliance with these provisions."

The bill further states, "Childhood obesity rates in the United States have risen dramatically over the past 30 years, and today more than one-third of American children are obese or overweight. In California, 33 percent of children are overweight or obese. Poor diet  and physical activity increase the risk for certain chronic health conditions, including high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

To infer that the Box Tops For Education somehow contributes to obesity is ludicrous when you look at the list of 240 items accepted for the program. A large portion of the items are not edible and the edible items listed are not necessarily eaten by the children as they are collecting from family members and friends who want to contribute.

Parent Diane Wilkerson brought Box Tops For Education to McKinley 20 years ago and after calling General Mills for information contacted Principal Chris McIntire. As a member of Delta Nu Alpha Sorority she brought the project to them and they raised $248 for the first time.  Wilkerson had bulletin boards up at Wilson School encouraging classrooms to challenge one another and prizes were given from pencils to pizza parties for the winning classrooms. In 10 years the two schools had raised $20,000 which is phenomenal considering each box top was worth either five or ten cents, some more. It was up to Wilkerson to collect the box tops at the schools, band them in stacks of 50's with the help of her two boys Tyler and Brian and send 250 in a Ziploc to raise $1,200 to $1,500 per year. Wilkerson would think nothing of removing box tops when visiting at friends houses for the cause. 

"Box Tops For Education" is phenomenal. You get out of it what you put into it," Wilkerson stated. "Schools can earn up to $20,000 per year," Wilkerson said, adding "67 percent of households collect Box Tops and 76,500 schools participate in the program in the United States.

It was five years ago that Wilkerson handed over the reins to McKinley Primary Parent and 

Gridley Elementary Schools PTA (GESPTA) President Lisa Donati who states that nearly half of the Box Top money that comes in for Gridley Schools comes from Ziploc Bags, Kleenex tissue and Chlorox wipes. 

A long list provided by Box tops For Education listed the many categories such as baking and bakeware, household cleaning, food storage, frozen, paper products, produce, refrigerated and dairy, tableware, snacks and juices and even waste bags.

Nine Hefty products are on the list with everything from kitchen trash bags to lawn and leaf bags, paper products include Scott Paper Towels, Bath Tissue and Kleenex Facial Tissue. Household cleaning items include Finish Dishwashing Liquid and Lysol bathroom cleaners and disinfectant spray. Food storage includes eight Ziploc brand bags and containers.

With all of these types of products one has to wonder how these items could cause obesity but of course the list includes frozen Green Giant vegetables, many different types of cereal, Yoplait Original and Yoplait Light Fridge packs  and Progresso soups and broths.

Donati was interviewed for a video May 11 following McKinley School's trip to the Sacramento Zoo where students were able to actually see the seven animals they have studied in the past seven weeks. The Box Tops program contracted with Vimby (Video In My Backyard) to video the school and see the classrooms of McKinley once the trip to the Sacramento Zoo was completed. They also interviewed Principal Chris McIntire and First Grade Teacher Debbie Foster.

Foster explained on the video how the children rotate classrooms to learn about each animal.

"Today's trip was the culmination of animals they have learned about," Foster stated. She shares a classroom with Teacher Amber Bozzo.

"We enjoy Box Tops because they help us get field trips that may not otherwise be available with budget cuts," she said. She explained that it was a perfect day for a trip to the zoo because if the weather is too hot the animals aren't out. 

Foster was a student at McKinley herself and has taught there 10 years, the first two being kindergarten.

McKinley Primary School collects Box Tops throughout the year and the kids are excited to bring them in, not only from their own family but also from their grandparents, Foster stated while being filmed. The seven animals were taught by Sandra Allen who taught the children about turtles, Mindy Tuft - flamingos, Stephanie Olson -  giraffes, Shelly Hamman - frogs, Daniel O'Campo - Lions, Amber Bozzo - zebras, Shannon McCamy - snakes and Foster - Chimpanzees.

The Box Tops For Education Program has donated $50 million since 1996 making a huge difference when it comes to helping schools with important learning tools such as field trips.

"Anyone in our town can collect Box Tops and bring them to McKinley or hand to any of the GESPTA parents, we are happy to turn them in," Donati stated. "The Box Tops For Education could not be easier. Every year a new clip sheet arrives with the theme of the month. Kids are excited to fill them in. Box Tops makes it easy to submit. There is a lot of information if you need it. The kids are excited to see which classroom has collected the most each month."

Box Top money collected goes into the student fund and if there is not enough there for a project this added source of income helps especially when it comes to bus  travel expenses.

Explaining the benefits of McKinley School to this Sacramento based video company, Donati stated she loves McKinley Primary for the family atmosphere for her children.

"It is not only a warm place, it is a place where children learn to follow rules in a really supportive environment."

A grand total of  $525 million had been raised as of 2013 in the U.S., for Box Tops for Education program with 90,000 schools participating and 240 participating brands. That total is up to $800 million currently for American schools. So why should this beneficial program be cut off?

Mr. McIntire was the last to be interviewed and gave his supportive views on Box Tops and the benefits the program brings to the students and the schools.

"McKinley Primary School would like to thank our parents, staff, and community members for collecting Box Tops so our students are able to experience educational field trips.. Each year, students from McKinley Primary School are able to attend the Chico Creek Nature Center or the Sacramento Zoo.  McKinley School would like to thank all of those individuals from past to present who assist us in collecting/counting the Box Tops," he stated.