“It’s a lot of hard yakka … 20 cents here, 50 cents there, but it all adds up and it’s worth it,” says Pink Ladies president Corinne Lang.
Three red frogs for 20 cents, six freckles for 20 cents, four pineapples for 20 cents … the prices are low, the customers are many and the profit from lolly sales at the Manning Hospital kiosk funds big ticket and small ticket items for patients and staff.
Yesterday Corinne ordered two sofa beds – one for the maternity ward and one for the children’s ward – and the $7000 needed to pay the bill is in the bank because of thousands of lolly bag sales.
Water is also a big seller, says Corinne, but it is the lollies that bring visitors, staff, patients and people off the street to the kiosk, and alarmingly, it is lollies and food that is considered unhealthy that Hunter New England Local Health District (HNELHD) wants out of its hospitals.
HNELHD is working to comply with new NSW Health guidelines to “make healthy food and drink normal in our health facilities” and confectionery is one of many items in the firing line. The Pink Ladies are hoping that by highlighting the dollar value of what they contribute to the hospital that HNELHD will act to classify the kiosk area as a fundraising activity, and enable it be exempt from the guidelines. In the last three years, Corinne says the Pink Ladies have purchased items for Manning Hospital that total more than $57,000.
She says they have acted to adjust what is in the drinks fridge “but have yet to get as far as the lolly counter.”
We are finished if we can't sell the lollies and other food items that don't fit within the new policy guidelines.Pink Ladies president Corinne Lang
“We are finished if we can't sell the lollies and other food items that don't fit within the new policy guidelines,” Corinne said. “If they took that off us then there would be no sense in us working here, so they would lose about 25 women because they are not going to come in here to do nothing.”
Corinne laughs as she says that “most people are aged over 18 who come in here to buy our lollies”, adding that “it goes back to the fact that most of our customers are adults and should have the right to choose.”
She says they do not take the lolly trolley to the children’s ward and describes a “lovely camaraderie with the staff, patients and people who visit the kiosk.”
“We are part of the hospital community.”
Earlier this year Fairfax Media asked HNELHD if the new policy framework would “impact on items sold by the Pink Ladies?”
“The framework does not apply to fundraising activities,” HNELHD executive director of finance, Mark Jeffrey said.
“However, we encourage fund-raisers to support these changes, where possible, by selling more healthy food and drink choices and limiting the sale of those with no nutritional value.”
“I am aware that the United Hospital Auxiliary supports the framework and senior management are actively communicating this to its members across NSW.”