4 Healthy PTO Fundraising Ideas for the New School Year
Many school programs, such as band, cheerleading and Parent Teacher Organizations rely on fundraising activities to pay for equipment, activities, field trips and supplies. A study conducted in 2000 found that 80 percent of schools nationwide participate in some form of fundraising. However, most of those catalog sales and events tend to focus on unhealthy foods.
The most popular fundraising programs sell candy bars and high-fat baked goods, according to an educational report called "Sweet Deals: School Fundraising Can Be Healthy and Profitable" by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). Just Googling "School Fundraisers" will lead someone to one of the most commonly conducted catalog fundraiser: the sale of cookie dough.
In school cafeterias, food service departments are under increased pressure to provide more healthful foods due to the dramatic increase in childhood obesity over the past 20 years. Studies also show that healthy kids learn better — good nutrition is linked to better behavior and academic performance. So why are the fundraisers promoting junk food? You can have a profitable fundraiser offering more healthful options.
The most obvious healthy fundraiser is the sale of fresh fruit. The website www.800apples2.com offers navel oranges, red grapefruit, apples (red, golden and granny smith), and tangelos. They also have variety gift boxes and gift baskets of fruit. According to the organizations, even a small group of 15 people selling an average of 20 boxes each can make a profit of $2100. Florida Indian River Groves is another fruit fundraising option. The company suggests navel oranges and red grapefruit, because they are most popular.
Why not try some gourmet coffee? Recently, many studies have found that the once-restricted beverage actually has many healthy benefits, such as lowering the risk of diabetes, Parkinson's disease and colon cancer. The Ultimate Beverage Collection includes coffee, hot cocoa, cappuccino, chai, iced tea, smoothies, and gift sets/beverage mugs. Prices range from $10 to $18 and the PTO can get a 40-50% profit on sales.
Try some gourmet nuts instead of candy bars this year. Mascot Pecan Shelling Company offers pecans, peanuts, and cashews among its more healthy offerings (just watch out for the ones marked "glazed" as these are much higher in sugar and calories). While nuts can be high in calories, they are also full of beneficial nutrients such as fiber, antioxidants including vitamin E and selenium, and omega-3 fatty acids. Just remember to keep portion sizes around one to two ounces per day.
Events and Activities
Instead of a fundraiser around food, plan an event for learning (such as a book fair) or physical activity (a walk-a-thon or fun run). Scholastic book fairs are among the most popular for schools because they also offer the option of using some of the proceeds toward improving the school library.
Hosting a fun run can be a challenge, especially the first time, but it is a great way to promote physical activity. After determining the date, time and location, other factors to consider are distance (for children, the best is between two and four miles), how the money will be raised (flat rate or donation per mile; you can also ask local businesses for sponsorships), and whether or not you will offer concessions and t-shirts (which can also bring in money).
Creating healthful after school activities and fundraising events reaps its rewards in healthy, happy kids — and isn't that what it's all about?