Five fund raising ideas schools can use to replace bake sales

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The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which went into effect July 2014, requires that all "competitive foods" sold during the school day are healthy. That includes the fundraising basic bake sale.

The law does allow for states to mandate the number of bake sales at each school during the year, but only a few states have made those exceptions, according to the School Nutrition Association. Thirty states have no exemptions.

This leaves many school groups wondering how they will now raise funds for things like field trips, uniforms, supplies and special improvements not covered by the budget provided by the school board.

The following five ideas range from small to big, and will raise the much needed funds without kids having to become door-to-door salesmen selling stuff no one really wants or needs. School groups using these ideas can set prices according to what their community will be willing to pay.

Craft Sale

A craft sale held near the holidays can allow children to purchase inexpensive presents for their family and friends. Instead of baked goods, families can donate quality crafts- hand-made bracelets, scarves and journals, for example- for purchase. For a school-wide affair, each classroom or club could have their own theme. Families could get together on a weekend or after school on days leading up to the event to work on the projects together, or even get craft tutoring from an expert.

Penny Wars

Penny Wars pits all the classes or grades in the school against each other. Even Kindergartners can enjoy this event. Each class or grade is assigned a bucket or water cooler bottle. Students, teachers and families place money in the containers throughout the week with one catch- pennies are positive points and and all other coins and bills are negative points. The class or grade with the most points at the end of the week wins the Penny Wars. The prize could be a pizza party or a special privilege.

*Note: Be prepared with many hands and a few hours available to count the coins and bills at the conclusion of the event.

Talent Show/Battle of the Bands

A talent show or a battle of the bands can be a fun event to host. For entry into the competition, require that each group or individual sells at least 10 tickets. Also sell tickets at the door for admission. To determine the winner, either have a panel of judges or gauge audience applause. The prize could be half the ticket sales, which would encourage the performers to sell more than just the 10 tickets they were required to sell. (If there are 10 performers and tickets are $5, that's at least a $250 prize.)

Mini Golf Tournament

A mini golf tournament is similar to a golf tournament, just on a smaller scale and is perfect for families to participate. The school or school group should make a deal with a local mini golf location to host the tournament. Then, teams of 4 sign up for a reasonable cost that also makes money for the school group. For prizes, the group should find businesses or individuals willing to donate prizes, or even use leftover spirit wear. Prizes can be given out to the team with the lowest score, a hole-in-one, best team name, or any other qualifications.

Health and Fitness Fair

Since the cause for the loss of bake sales is a campaign for healthier kids, why not help families in the communities meet the goal with a health and fitness fair? Sell booth spots to doctors, fitness professionals, nutritionists and local farmers to provide educational opportunities. Set up an obstacle course- or two, an adult one and a kid one- and sell chances to race through it, giving the person with the fastest time a prize. Another feature of the fair could be a healthy snack contest in which kids submit their original snacks and win a prize for the best snack.

© 2014 Samantha Sinclair

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