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WINK tests Box Tops app after schools say program is losing big bucks

The Box Tops for Education program raises money for schools. The vouchers are on certain products at the grocery store and can earn schools 10 cents a piece if they’re turned in. But, one year after the program went from physical clippings to a receipt-scanning app, some schools are seeing their revenue cut in half.

In our first report, we told you Meadow Park Elementary School in Charlotte County received $1,207 in the 2018-19 school year, compared to $520 in 2019-20. In Lee County, both Pine Woods and Three Oaks Elementary schools say they saw more than a $1,000 decrease in revenue from last year to this year. And, in Collier County, Laurel Oak Elementary School saw a more than $900 decrease in revenue. At Sea Gate Elementary School, it went from $1,337 in 2018-2019 to just $72 this past school year.

Out of sight, out of mind

Losses like this don’t shock Wendy Canamucio of Naples. She said she’s clipped hundreds over the years for her nieces, nephews and grandchildren.

“Raising money for the school is the number one priority,” Canamucio said.

Canamucio said it was fun for the kids because top earning classes would earn a party.

“As we broke down the cardboard to put it in the recycle bin or something, the first thing I did was look for the box top,” Canamucio said.

But, since the app was implemented, she’s stopped participating.

“It was really kind of inconvenient,” Canamucio said. “I think then there was no fun in it for the kids anymore.”

Testing the app

After learning of the school’s losses, WINK News put the Box Tops app to the test and found the decline might not only be because of the “inconvenience.”

First, not all of the qualifying items have a Box Tops logo on them.

While General Mills cereal and Old El Paso taco shells are marked, Lysol toilet bowl cleaner, Annie’s macaroni and cheese, and Pillsbury rolls are not.

When it was time to upload the Box Tops receipt, we had to appeal the donation results twice — once when it didn’t recognize two of the three eligible items and a second time when we didn’t earn the promised, promotional bonus Box Tops.

General Mills, who owns Pillsbury and Annie’s said, “While most products in the program have the Box Tops for Education logo on packaging, there are few instances where the product does not have the logo. The reason being is because the brand is updating its packaging and therefore, the logo will be placed on the packaging at a later date.”

Lysol would not tell us why the logo is not displayed on its packaging.

Reporter:Allison Gormly
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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