A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All
To Whom It May Concern at General Mills:
As a busy mother of three, I am writing to implore you to reconsider your Box Tops for Education Program. It is my assertion that parents cannot spare the time, energy, or resources required to clip and submit Box Tops on a regular basis.
Do you even have children? Really? Because if you did, surely you would not have the audacity to ask parents to deal with this once a month:
Sure, I could have asked my children to help and we could have been singing Kumbayah while we clip clip clip in peacefully harmony, but no… it was a beautiful day and I felt that my children would benefit more from getting their 60 minutes of federally mandated outside playtime. Particularly so they could burn off the Reese’s® Puffs® and Yoplait® Trix® Lowfat Yogurt they had for their after-school snack.
According to my stopwatch, it takes me approximately 15.7 seconds to neatly clip one Box Top. And that is not including the time it takes me to first rip the box flap from the original packaging and stuff it into the plastic baggie I have hanging on my refrigerator to collect the unclipped Box Tops throughout the month. Nor does it include the amount of time I have invested in training my husband, children, and vision impaired mother-in-law to “SAVE THAT LABEL!!! OMG, IT IS WORTH A DIME TO OUR SCHOOL!”
So at 15.7 seconds for one Box Top, it should have taken approximately 7.85 minutes to clip the 30 Box Tops I am submitting today. In reality, however, there were several interruptions… like when I had to referee a “She hit me with a stick!” battle and chase down a Box Top that the dog was trying to steal and eat. In addition, once you factor in the amount of time it took to gather the clipped labels, stick them in a baggie, place the baggie in the child’s backpack, put the kids in time outs, and kick the dog, it took more like 15 minutes to complete this task. Fifteen minutes of my already busy enough life, in exchange for $3.00 for my child’s school. Whoopdee-frickin-do.
Once we turn in our Box Tops, our classroom “Redemption Parent” has to count them all out and bundle them in groups of 50 to ship them back to you. Again, I point out the gross waste of resources. This is a parent who wants to serve; who is instead counting and bundling minuscule scraps of paper. This parent also has to dedicate untold hours badgering parents and children to “Clip, clip, clip!” and submit these tiny fragments of product labels.
Look, don’t get me wrong. I like money. I like free money even more. But this is not free money. This is chump change in exchange for precious parenting and volunteering time that could be spent in much wiser ways for the betterment of our children, our schools, and our society at large.
My kids’ school is one of the highest earning Box Tops schools in our state. We use the money for great things like playground equipment upgrades and new books for classrooms. I imagine that most of the members of my PTA would not look kindly upon my harping. But like my friend Joanne says, I have an opinion and I’m not afraid to use it.
And I’m not even talking about the obvious inequity associated with this program. I happen to be fortunate enough to live in a school district with lots of resources and parent volunteers whose activity levels remind me of rabid squirrels. It is not uncommon to receive email blasts reminding us to register online for bonus Box Tops, and for those of us lucky enough to have iPhones, there is now the Box Top App! But what about poorer school districts? What do they get? Isn’t it unfair that the schools who could probably use your funds the most probably don’t get any? Because really, can you see moms who are struggling to put food on their table clipping these things or using a smartphone app to earn more money for their schools? Eh, no. Me neither.
While I do appreciate your interest in helping schools earn extra money (while you aggressively market your brands), I would suggest that you find an easier, more environmentally friendly, and egalitarian way of “giving back.” Adding more busy work to already very busy parents is hardly an altruistic act. If you really want to help us, make our lives easier and support our efforts to feed our children healthy foods (i.e., not Pillsbury® Toaster Strudels, Betty Crocker® Fruit by the Foot, or Betty Crocker® Hamburger Helper.)
Perhaps you would consider switching to an electronic card reader that shoppers can swipe at check out like the Upromise program? That would certainly be much easier for parents and schools than the ripping, clipping, and shipping. It would also be much more environmentally friendly as the baggies, envelopes, stamps, and mail transportation would be eliminated.
Thank you for your consideration. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to catch and dress my crime fighting preschooler:
Iris M. Beard
CC: to the schmucks with similar label redemption programs at Pepperidge Farms, Campbell’s Soups, Tyson Chicken, Capri Sun, and Sunny-D. I would like to dedicate a song to all of you:
© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.