Healthier Ways to Rake It In
Hopefully, your kids are getting their physical education and recess and enjoying healthy school lunches and active classroom parties. But what happens when the fall fundraiser sends them door to door selling cookie dough or the bake sale is just around the corner? Sending mixed messages undermines your valiant efforts to get your kiddos to eat healthy and makes it harder for them to develop healthy habits.
It’s time to raise the bar on fundraising in a way that reinforces—not contradicts—the positive health messages we send to our kids.
Fundraisers play an important role in supporting a variety of school programs—including health and wellness programs. More parents are starting to question having their kids peddle candy and other junk foods for fundraisers, while others are more resistant to change and don’t necessarily share the same concerns, especially when that candy or cookie dough fundraiser is successful. How can you make a case for a healthy or active fundraiser or change other ways in which your child’s school raises money through school food service programs? Let’s dive in.
We finally decided to do a fun run for our fundraiser…and raised $40,000 compared to $10,000 we raised the year before selling cookie dough.
– Shellie McKeown, Pine, Colorado
A Race to the Stomach
Believe it or not, there are foods sold at school that compete with your child’s healthy lunch and snack options. And they mean business. Get tips for supporting healthier food sales at school.
Traditional Fundraisers – Healthy ways to raise money (and healthier students)
Somewhere along the way, bake sale become synonymous with school fundraiser. We’re not bashing bake sales—everyone loves a good homemade cupcake—but we are saying that it’s okay to make them the exception, not the norm, and think differently about fundraising. It’s entirely possible to hold a successful fundraiser that doesn’t involve food.
- Car Washes
- Game night, Bingo night
- Parents’ day/night out—provide childcare with open gym and activities for kids so parents can holiday shop or have an evening out
- Raffle tickets with donated prizes and special items, like a front-row “VIP” reserved seat at a school concert
- Offer a straight donation option. Parents are busy, and if your school community is open to it, many parents would be happy to write a check
- Community members want to support your school, too! Don’t be afraid to ask them for a donation.
Non-food fundraisers are a step in the right direction, but active fundraisers take it even further, getting kids moving and encouraging better health while raising money. Here are just a few great options:
- Fun walks or runs
- Walk-a-thons, bike-a-thons, jump-rope-a-thons, hula-hoop-a-thons (fill-in-the-blank-a-thons…)
- Student or family obstacle courses
- Teacher-student competitions in kickball, volleyball, Frisbee or other sports after school or on a weekend (Get the cool teachers involved—your kid knows who they are—to amp up participation.)
- Sales of fall or spring flowers, bulbs, and/or seed – let student do the planting and help with the yard work
Fundraisers that Promote Healthy Eating
- Fruit and vegetable boxes, baskets or bundles
- Healthy spices and seasonings
- Banana plants (Yep, Ana Villacorta’s school in Boca Raton sold banana plants to raise funds for the school garden!)
- Cookbook of families’ healthy recipes
- Family nights at local healthy restaurants
Traditional Fundraiser Tip: If you do sell food, make it healthy food! Think oranges, granola bars and trail mix.
Fundraising the Bar
At Hoffman Trails Elementary School in HIllard, Ohio, it was a tradition for the PTO to plan an academically based “thon” as an annual fundraiser, such as a math-a-thon or history-a-thon. But parent Kelly Schulze wasn’t thrilled with the unhealthy prizes that were offered, so she took matters into her own hands and organized a “Hippity-Hop-a-Thon.” Students collected pledges for their participation, and they earned prizes like extra recess and tickets to attend a school dance with local radio talent serving as DJ. If they raised $50, students could take home their very own hippity-hop ball. Every single student participated and had a blast in what turned out to be a hugely successful fundraiser.
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