Subway, the sandwich restaurant, wants to hear your child’s story – unless he or she is homeschooled.

The national chain’s “Every Sandwich Tells a Story Contest” offers prizes and a chance to be published on the Subway website and in Scholastic’s “Parent & Child” magazine but specifically excludes homeschoolers:

Subway contest

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. Contest is open only to legal residents of the Untied (sic) States who are currently over the age of 18 and have children who attend elementary, private or parochial schools that serve grades PreK-6. No home schools will be accepted.

Subway’s website promotion not only misspells “United” States, but offers the grand prize winner a “Scholastic Gift Bastket (sic) for your home.”

The 2007 winner of the Scripps National Spelling Bee was Evan O’Dorney, a 13-year old homeschool student from Danville, Calif.

Contestants are urged to write, in 500 words or less, a story that has a beginning, middle, and end using one of four provided story starters:

The Mysterious Meatball
When the invitation to the Meatball came in the mail…

Turkey Doesn’t Live Here Anymore
There was a loud knock on the door, but when Salami Sam opened it …

The Race to Red Onion Ranch
Everyone gathered in the center of town for the start of the race except …

Nothing Better
The smell of fresh baked bread coming from the store was so good that …

The contest, launched in January, has a deadline of June 30, 2008. A grand prize winner and 6 runners-up will be selected on July 15 and announced approximately a week later.

Subway contest

The company’s website promotion encourages submitters to describe in their essays “random acts of fitness,” such as eating right, exercising, playing sports and living a healthy lifestyle.

Subway has marketed itself for several years as a healthy alternative to fast food, featuring spokesman Jared Fogle who went from 425 pounds to 190 pounds on a daily diet of the chain’s lower-calorie sandwiches.

The exclusion of homeschoolers, presumably because the grand prize includes $5,000 worth of athletic equipment for the winning child’s school, has caught the attention of bloggers who educate their children.

Valerie Bonham Moon, writing for HomeEdMag, referred to the exclusion as “Subway’s P.R. gaffe.”

“By now, the Subway sandwich shop marketing division must know how bad of a decision it was on the part of whichever wonk who decided to expressly exclude homeschoolers from their latest contest. E-mail lists may not be utterly aflame over the exclusion, but there is more than one p—ed-off homeschool mom spreading the word. I’ve been reading their e-mails.”

Moon notes Subway, with a bit of forethought, could have easily included homeschoolers:

“One of the more obvious work-arounds that the developers of the Subway contest could have included for homeschooling parents who entered on their children’s behalf, was for the equipment to be donated to a local park, or to a school of the winner’s choice. Problem solved – good will all around. Too bad that it didn’t play out that way.

“I look forward to seeing how the Subway wonks handle their self-inflicted wound.”

The blogger at Capturing Today, a homeschooling mother, isn’t waiting for the self-inflicted wound, suggesting homeschool families “act now!”

“Excuse me, but there are MILLIONS of homeschool students in this nation and this is just discrimination. A homeschool student could easily donate the athletic equipment to their homeschool athletic association, local park, athletic center, neighborhood center or the like. I realize they are doing this to have a mass-marketing effect, but they could have just as great a media response from a charitable homeschool student donating the prize.

“I believe this is a wonderful opportunity for us to make our voices heard that we as homeschool families are tired of being cast in a negative light.

Jim and Cathy Peschke, blogging at Croydoncraft, expressed their displeasure by entering an essay on behalf of their 3-year-old homeschooled daughter who, while visiting a Subway restaurant, breaks into tears upon learning she’s not eligible to enter the contest.

“I cried and cried, and asked Daddy if we could leave. He said ‘Certainly. Not only will we never visit a mean old Subway store again, we’ll organize a B-O-Y-C-O-T-T of Subway stores by all your homeschooling friends!’

‘I sure hope Subway changes their silly policy so Mommy and Daddy can take me back for more sandwiches.'”

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