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Healthy School Fundraisers

Updated on August 29, 2017

Healthier Fundraising Options for Schools

Being a health-conscious and eco-conscious parent is hard these days when schools are pressuring us along with friends and family to buy junk food, low quality products and a variety of paper products that are not just needed. Fundraising doesn't have to be this way.

The nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) have released a report showing that non-food and healthy-food fundraising options can raise as much or more than the traditional junk food fundraisers. Healthy Fundraising requires that parents and schools just do some thinking outside of the box to discover new ways of fundraising.

In trying to find other healthier options, I went in search of fundraisers that didn't involve unhealthy foods.

Take a look at some of the reasons for holding healthier fundraisers along with some great ideas for healthy-food fundraisers and non-food fundraisers. (If you want to jump to the list of fundraisers, follow this List of Healthier Fundraising Options.)

Image Source: Composite of Michal Zacharzewski's Just a Box and RAWKU5's Apple both Royalty Free Use with several Microsoft Images.

Selling junk food for fundraisers undermines teaching children about eating healthy food.

My Thoughts on School Fundraisers

  1. As a nutrition teacher

    I believe we need to be reinforcing classroom nutrition teaching by including more healthy choices in fundraising activities otherwise the students get a mixed message.

  2. As a physician

    As an Internal Medicine Physician I have cared for patients with many chronic illnesses, like diabetes and and heart disease. The current obesity epidemic is magnifying the effect of these diseases on our population. Unfortunately, these diseases are being diagnoses in younger and younger people, even children.

  3. As a parent

    I want my children to grow up and be healthy and happy and not be faced with a life-time of chronic disease. I am teaching them to make healthy eating choices and to be physically active each day.

  4. As a member of the Wellness Committee

    Our school's Wellness Committee working with the California Guidelines for foods and beverages in schools has worked to develop policies for classroom parties that promote healthy eating. We have also implemented guidelines that there would be only one classroom party each month.

Think Outside the Box for Healthy Fundraisers

Healthy Fundraising requires that parents and schools do some thinking outside of the box to discover new ways of fundraising.

Say "No" to Unhealthy Bake Sales

Say "No" to Unhealthy Bake Sales
Say "No" to Unhealthy Bake Sales

Your Chance to Weigh in on School Fundraisers

What do you think about school fundraisers?

Healthy Fundraising Ideas

Healthier Fundraising Options

Healthier Fundraising Options
Healthier Fundraising Options

Healthier Fundraising Programs

Some of the healthier fundraising programs available to schools that have been recommended by the Center for Science in the Public Interest include:

  1. Physical activity fundraisers.

    There are many different sports-related fundraisers that schools can host which get kids out and being active while raising funds. Easy ideas include a walk-a-thon, a run, shooting hoops or jumping rope.

  2. Healthy food sales.

    Healthy food options that can be sold at school functions (in place of unhealthier choices) include selling fruit, 100% fruit roll-ups, bottled water, air-popped popcorn, granola bars and popchips.

  3. Recycling fundraisers.

    There are a variety of different products that can be collected by schools and recycled for cash. Used cell phones, printer cartridges and clothing are three items that can be recycled for cash.

  4. Scrip and grocery store fundraisers.

    Many grocery stores have programs that will disburse a percentage of shopper's purchases to any school that they designate. Scrip is one of these programs.

  5. Book fairs.

    Schools can work with the publishing company Scholastic to host a book fair that also help to promote reading while raising funds.

Healthy Fundraisers can be Lucrative

Healthy fundraisers can be just as lucrative and popular as the more traditional chocolate sales.

Be creative and find what's right for your school.

Other Parents Weigh in on School Fundraiser

I am not the only parent thinking this way about School Fundraisers. Here is just a sample of quotes and thoughts from other parents on School Fundraisers.

Physical Activity Fundraisers

Physical Activity Fundraisers

There are a whole variety of different physical activity fundraisers that can be hosted.

Sports-related fundraisers help promote physical activity for students and can be lucrative fundraisers for schools.

  • Walk-a-thons
  • Runs - 5Ks, 10Ks,
  • Fun Runs
  • Dance-a-thon
  • Bowl-a-thon
  • Jump rope-a-thon
  • Golf tournaments
There are also many organizations (like the American Heart Association) that sponsor physical activity fundraisers that the schools can work with to help host a fundraiser.

Healthy Food Fundraising Options

Healthy Food Options

Healthy Food Options
Healthy Food Options

Recommended Healthier Foods for Fundraising

Action for Healthy Kids recommends the following healthier foods as fundraising options.

  1. Fresh Fruit
  2. Fruit Baskets
  3. Cheese Baskets
  4. Popcorn & Nuts
  5. Low-fat Cereal Bars
  6. Trail Mixes
  7. Gourmet Food Baskets

Fruitabu Apple Twirls on Amazon

Stretch Island Fruitabu Rolls, Apple, 6-Count Rolls (Pack of 6)
Stretch Island Fruitabu Rolls, Apple, 6-Count Rolls (Pack of 6)

Fun fruit rolls for the kids, with no added sugar.

Fruitabu Apple Twirls are USDA Organic Certified and contain 1 serving of fruit.


Green Fundraiser Ideas

Looking for Greener Ways to Raise Money for Schools

Isn't there are greener way for kids to help raise money for their school without trashing the planet?

Jenn, The Green Parent

Green Fundraising Ideas

Some of Green Fundraising Ideas include:

  • 1. Selling Green Stuff
  • Several examples of Green Products (Smencils and a variety of Reusable Shopping Bags are listed below).
  • 2. Recycling Fundraisers
  • Used cell phones, empty printer cartridges, cans, bags and re-usable clothing can all be collected by schools in exchange for cash.
  • 3. Buying Green Online
  • Different organizations are making it easy for schools and other non-profits to host fundraisers, by giving them the option of hosting Virtual or online fundraisers.
  • 4. Adopt-a-Tree
  • An Adopt-a-Tree fundraiser is a great way to raise funds, teach children about the role trees play in our everyday lives, and do something meaningful for the environment.
  • 5. Community Cleanup
  • Raise funds by choosing a public area in need of a good cleanup, and get members of the community to sponsor your group.
  • 6. Green-a-thon
  • Raise funds and exercise with a Green-a-thon such s a walk-a-thon or fun run. Pledgers can donate cash for every lap walked or run.

Baggu Reusable Shopping Bags on Amazon

BAGGU Baggu X3 Reusable Shopping Bag,Greens,one size
BAGGU Baggu X3 Reusable Shopping Bag,Greens,one size

Baggu ("bag" in Japanese) is a stylish and practical bag that is helping save the planet by reducing the number of plastic bags used.

The Baggu is machine washable, and folds up into its own pouch small enough to tuck into your handbag or pocket.

Made of super-tough ripstop nylon in bright, fun colors, it's the re-usable bag that's eco-chic.


Green Fundraising Ideas

Here are just a few of the Green Fundraising Ideas that I found with products available through Amazon.

  1. Smencils - Gourmet scented pencils made from recycled newspapers.
  2. ChicoBag Reusable Shopping Bags
  3. Baggu Reusable Shopping Bags
  4. CYMA Reusable Grocery Tote Bags

Teaching Children to Be Healthy and Eco-Friendly

I agree with Jean Saunders opinions about having children sell junk food for fundraisers. If we enlist the children to sell junk and junk food it gives them mixed messages about food and about the environment.

I believe we need to be reinforcing classroom nutrition teaching by including more healthy choices in fundraising activities otherwise the students get a mixed message.

With our choice of fundraisers, we can also teach the children about the importance of being active as a part of daily living. We can also teach them to be concerned about recycling, the environment and the world.

While bake sales may not the the main culprit in the obesity epidemic, finding fundraisers that encourage people to move more and eat less can definitely help to change our habits and lifestyle choices.

Smencils Scented Pencils Bucket on Amazon

Educational Insights Bucket Of 50 Gourmet Scented Pencils
Educational Insights Bucket Of 50 Gourmet Scented Pencils

Smencils are gourmet-scented, environmentally friendly pencils that are a good alternative to wooden pencils.

They are made from 100% recycled newspapers

Smencils come in 10 scent-sational fragrances guaranteed to keep their wonderful aromas for 2 yrs.


More Smencils Available on Amazon

More Smencils in different scents available on Amazon.

ChicoBag Reusable Shopping Bags on Amazon

ChicoBag Reusable Shopping Bags: Green
ChicoBag Reusable Shopping Bags: Green

Use the ChicoBag Reusable Nylon Shopping Bag for everything trips to the grocery store, farmers market or out shopping. The Chico Bag reusable shopping bag is made from strong, durable nylon. It's ultra-lightweight and tucks into a little bag making it perfect to fit into your purse, pocket or glove box.

ChicoBags are easy to pack, durable and hold a lot of food or other stuff.


Recycled Cotton Canvas Tote EcoBag on Amazon

Eco-Bags Products Recycled Cotton Tote, Natural
Eco-Bags Products Recycled Cotton Tote, Natural

This is the ECOBags� 10 oz. recycled cotton canvas tote bag, manufactured with recycled cotton fibers.

The bag is generously sized; 19 (inches) wide x 15.5 high, with a full 7.5 bottom gusset and over-the-shoulder 22 inch straps for easy carrying. Double stitched on all seams for durability.


More EcoBag Products Available on Amazon

More from EcoBags, European-styled String Bags, Reusable Produce Bags and Tote Bags

Selling Reusable Shopping Bags

There are many different organizations and companies that are offering fundraisers to sell reusable shopping bags.

Online Green Fundraising Ideas and Programs

Green Online Fundraisers

Different organizations are making it easy for schools and other non-profits to host fundraisers, by giving them the option of hosting Virtual or online fundraisers.

Here are links to just a few that I've found:

Subscribe to the Scrip Fund Raising Program

With Scrip members can use it to buy their favorite products and services, they generate all or a portion of the much needed funds for a school, cause, projects, or programs.

Host a Scholastic Book Fair

Hosting a Fair is the best way to support your school's reading efforts. Students, parents, and teachers love Book Fairs for a number of reasons, including:

  • * A Book Fair connects kids to the books they want to read.
  • * They feature a terrific assortment of books, hand-selected by book experts.
  • * Book Fairs help build school, classroom, and home libraries.
  • * They generate community involvement.
  • * A Fair is one of the easiest ways to raise funds for the school.

Fundraisers Outside of the Box

Fundraisers Outside of the Box
Fundraisers Outside of the Box

More Resources on Healthier Fundraising Options

Most of these resources are PDF files with a wide variety of information compiled by the organization.

Image Credits

Fundraising Outside of the Box - Composite of Michal Zacharzewski. Just a Box and RAWKU5's Apple both Royalty Free Use with several Microsoft Images.

Say "No" to Unhealthy Bake Sales - Modified Microsoft Image.

Healthier Fundraising Options - Composite Image by Kirsti A. Dyer.

History of the Healthy Fundraiser Lens

Benefits Food for Everyone

This group benefits the Food for Everyone Foundation and the Squidoo Charity Fund.

The Mission of the Food For Everyone Foundation is to teach and assist families everywhere to grow successful and sustainable vegetable gardens, and really enjoy the experience.

What do you think about holding Healthier Fundraisers?

Comment on the Healthy School Fundraisers Lens

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    • nadiazr profile image

      nadiazr 5 years ago

      I recently fell into being in charge of a year long fundraising effort. We really wanted to stay away from the same old unhealthy food fundraisers that everyone does. Your lens has so many ideas that we never would have come up with on our own. Thank you so much for all of your effort. We are definately going to use some of these ideas.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Such a resourceful lens! My goodness I'm surprised I haven't ran across your stuff before now.

      One thing I hate about school fundraisers is all the junk food they try to sell. Last year it was cheesecakes and almond roca..... I think that items you have shown are way better than any empty foods they try to unload on us. Except the girl scouts, God bless those cookies...ha ha

      I think you have some great content here and I am going to lens roll this to my Non Profit Fundraising Ideas lens. Thanks for sharing!

    • monarch13 profile image

      monarch13 9 years ago

      Wow, you put my Healthy Classroom Guide to shame. Excellent resources tips and tools! 5 stars and lensrolled!

    • profile image

      lionmom100 9 years ago

      Great lens. My kids went to a private school and we existed on relatively healthy fundraisers - Scrip and Bingo Night (I loved being a runner while Al Lewis (Grandpa from the Munsters) was our caller (He was a great guy who donated both time and money))

    • Karicor profile image

      Karicor 9 years ago

      Excellent points made here that I support wholeheartedly. I hope my Blessings will help you spread this important message!


    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      This is great. This is one reason why I think candles make such a great fundraising item instead of all the junk. I also love the other healthy options you suggest there. A great lens.

    • Franksterk profile image

      Frankie Kangas 9 years ago from California

      Another excellent lens. I feel healthier just reading it! ;-)

    • profile image

      WhippetTalk 9 years ago

      I think the message of this lens is right on target. We are reaching a crisis in this nation with children being overweight. Better nutrition and more exercise will increase test scores and lead to healthier and happier children. 5*s because I can't give more than that!

    • The Homeopath profile image

      The Homeopath 9 years ago

      This is BRILLIANT!!! If I get one more "fundraising" request to sell crappy cookie dough or cheap chocolates, I'm going to scream. Lensrolling this, and I will MAKE SURE that our PTO President sees this.

    • chefkeem profile image

      Achim Thiemermann 9 years ago from Austin, Texas

      You're the leader, Doc. May you have many followers.