When CCFC member Angela Stephens went shopping with her six-year-old son, she was surprised when he “launched into a commercial for SunnyD.” Angela's family goes to great lengths to protect her son from commercial influences and has never purchased SunnyD because of concerns about its poor nutritional value.
But when her son excitedly told her that if she bought SunnyD his class would get free books, she realized why he was lobbying so hard: his teacher told him to.
Sweetened by high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), an 8-ounce serving of SunnyD contains a whopping 20 grams of sugar. Its orange hue comes from Yellow #5 and Yellow #6, two artificial colors that contain known carcinogens and can cause allergies and hyperactivity in children. But that’s not stopping Scholastic from partnering with SunnyD to market beverages laden with HFCS to a captive audience of schoolchildren in preschool and elementary classrooms around the country. As part of the “SunnyD Book Spree,” students are asked to collect SunnyD labels and teachers are encouraged to throw SunnyD parties in their classrooms—in exchange for 20 free Scholastic books.
We know that schools desperately need books, but commercializing classrooms and turning students into brand ambassadors for sugar-laden beverages is not the answer
A Scholastic representative told us that the SunnyD program is strictly for parents and teachers and does not involve children. But the SunnyD Book Spree website tells a different story. The “Tips for Teachers” include the following:
- Have a class party to "raise labels" for books—ask parents to send kids in with SunnyD.
- Keep fun cut-outs or colorful charts in the classroom, showing how many SunnyD labels have been collected.
There’s also a letter—pre-written by SunnyD and festooned with the company’s logos—that students are asked to bring home to their parents. The takeaway message for children and families? In these difficult times, teachers want kids to support their school by drinking SunnyD.
The Sunny D Book Spree runs through the end of November—and the company intends to bring it back next year. But without Scholastic, no teacher would ever throw a SunnyD party. By lending its imprimatur to the Book Spree and offering a small prize for classes that participate, Scholastic is once again trading on its privileged relationship with educators to bestow a veneer of respectability to a marketing scheme designed to exploit a captive audiences of young students.
That’s why Scholastic needs to hear from you: http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/621/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=5048