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NEW YORK (MainStreet) — While more schools across the nation have continued to close their doors to corporate America's open pockets, many of the nation's schools are still in the business of taking in millions of dollars in corporate advertising.

Wichita Public Schools, USD 259, is one of many of our nation's school systems open for business. Wichita Public Schools sell advertising space on scoreboards, banners in football stadiums and in gymnasiums, on high school digital message boards, student planners, school delivery trucks, and more to colleges and universities, retail stores, banks, restaurants, and others, according to Susan Arensman, a communications specialist at Wichita Public Schools.

In 2006, top food and beverage companies alone spent nearly $186 million on marketing to kids in schools. In 2009, companies — mostly those that sold beverages — spent some $149 million, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

A recent investigation by researchers at the University of Michigan and the University of Illinois shows that 10% of elementary schools and 30% of high schools served branded fast foods on a weekly basis in their cafeterias in 2007 through 2012. Another 19% of high schools served branded fast foods on a daily basis.

Wichita Public Schools serve both Pizza Hut and Domino's in their school cafeterias for which Arensman says there are no financial incentives. "[T]he students like it as an option for lunch, so that is why the school district provides that option," she explains. The restaurants "changed their products to meet the USDA's new nutrition guidelines to be able to be served in our schools," she notes.

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The researchers found that the most frequent type of commercialism in elementary schools were coupons for purchasing fast food. Marketing by coupons in elementary schools and using exclusive beverage contracts in high school happened more frequently at schools where families were in the middle or lower income levels.

The goal of the marketing, according to the researchers, was to gain food or beverage sales or develop brand recognition and loyalty among kids for future sales.

The goal for the Wichita school boils down to funding extracurricular activities.

"All of the proceeds go back to the schools to support different activities, such as an orchestra performing at a national convention, or students competing in the national debate tournament, etc.," says Arensman.

--Written by S.Z. Berg for MainStreet