In the wake of news coverage about its exclusion of homeschoolers from a student essay contest, the Subway restaurant chain has issued an apology and vows to include students educated at home in its next event.

Last weekend, WND broke the story of the eatery’s discrimination, as the firm made it clear on its website the campaign was not open to homeschoolers.

Written apologies are now being e-mailed to people who contacted the company to complain.

“We at Subway restaurants place a high value on education, regardless of the setting, and have initiated a number of programs and promotions aimed at educating our youth in the areas of health and fitness,” said Subway spokesman Jeremie Roche.

“We sincerely apologize to anyone who feels excluded by our current essay contest. Our intention was to provide an opportunity for traditional schools, many of which we know have trouble affording athletic equipment, to win equipment. Our intent was certainly not to exclude homeschool children from the opportunity to win prizes and benefit from better access to fitness equipment.”

Another Subway spokesman said the current contest couldn’t be changed because of legal issues, but Roche confirmed the rules would be amended for the next competition.

“To address the inadvertent limitation of our current contest and provide an opportunity for even more kids to improve their fitness, we will soon create an additional contest in which homeschool students will be encouraged to participate. When the kids win, everyone wins!” Roche said.

The current competition, called “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.

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.

But Subway’s website promotion not only banned homeschoolers, it misspelled “United” States and offered 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 deadline is June 30. A grand prize winner and six runners-up will be selected  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.

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

Moon says 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.”


Special offers:

‘The Harsh Truth About Public Schools’

You’ve Decided to Homeschool, Now What?

Must-have for homeschool bumpers: ‘My child is an honor roll student … at home’

Why homeschooling? Resource gives reasons parent education trumps all other options

Lock and load with Christian ammo for college

Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.