Some pupils hawk candy for profits

Jim Blaylock/Staff
Evans High School freshmen Leighton Stringfellow (left) and Johnathan Newman use one of the school's vending machines.

Student entrepreneurship sometimes seems to be thwarting healthful food choice efforts.

Some youngsters are bringing candy to school, marking up the price and selling the black-market sweets for a profit, classmates say.

"They walk around, and people will buy it," said Johnathan Newman, 16, of Evans High School.

The going price usually is $1, said Evans classmate Leighton Stringfellow, 15, snacking on chips he bought out of a vending machine after school.

Those vending machines, however, are turned off during the school day, denying access to their chips, candy and soft drinks.

Margie Hamilton, Greenbrier High School's principal, acknowledged a few students could be selling candy, but the practice is prohibited.

"If they bring it in for their own ill-gotten gains, they lose it and they lose their proceeds," Dr. Hamilton said.

A second offense likely would result in an in-school suspension, she said.

Dr. Hamilton said unauthorized candy sales can be difficult to control because school organizations often sell candy to raise money.

She said the school is trying to come up with a way to identify candy being sold legitimately as a fundraiser.

Sandra Carraway, Columbia County schools' deputy superintendent, said the system does not have a specific policy against candy sales.

However, she said federal law prohibits schools from allowing vending machine or fundraising food sales during the school day to avoid competition with the federal lunch program.

Richmond County has a no-candy policy, Hephzibah High School Principal Veta New said.

"Sometimes we'll have a search and we'll collect candy," she said, adding that if the treats are for personal use she typically overlooks it.

About a year ago, Dr. New said, she had one young entrepreneur who was hawking candy, fruit drinks and other goodies out of a briefcase to make some easy money.

Students caught selling candy are written up, but it's not considered a serious offense, she said.

Brenda Smith, the principal of Paul Knox Middle School in North Augusta, said she was not aware of any illicit candy sales at the school, but the penalties could range from a verbal reprimand to an in-school or out-of-school suspension.

"Anytime you accept money from a child in any form, it has to be approved by the area supervisor," she said.

Although Sharon Carson, Greenbrier Middle School's principal, did not condone unsanctioned candy sales, she said it would be hard to eliminate sweets from school grounds altogether.

"Candy still is a great motivator for some kids," she said. "They just love it."

Such ventures also can apparently teach pupils a business lesson.

At least one Evans High student, who asked not to be identified, said he tried selling beef jerky but got out of the business.

"I was losing more money than I made," he said.

Staff Writer Greg Gelpi contributed to this story.

Reach Betsy Gilliland at (706) 868-1222, ext. 113, or betsy.gilliland@augustachronicle.com.