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FoodCorps Friday: Healthy Fundraisers

by Leah Kelley

Think back to your younger years, back to your typical school fundraisers- if it wasn’t frozen cookie dough, it might’ve been chocolate bars. My high school cross country team sold cookies the size of my face.

What kind of message are we sending to our kids? Sugar sells. We know this, but can’t we strive for better? Grove Park Intermediate in Atlanta is aiming to do so.

FoodCorps National has equipped service members with a Healthy Schools Toolkit to get a picture of the food and health culture at each school, and to help us work with administrators to create SMART goals to move forward.

When I sat down with Principal Muhammad and Parent Liaison Ms. Mickelbury, they focused in on healthy fundraising, as a way to demonstrate to our students the importance of whole body health. We came up with an idea for a healthy recipe book as a fundraiser for the garden program.

To subsidize the cost of printing and make the books affordable to the school families, we’ve asked local organizations to purchase an advertisement space.

This idea has shaped each of my school-wide tastings, from kale and apple sauté to spinach hummus, into preparation for our recipe book. After each tasting, I ask the kids if they want the recipe to be in the book- each time I’ve received an overwhelming cry of yes!

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A rainbow coleslaw recipe, with cabbage from the garden!

We wanted to include family recipes in the book to make it a school-wide collaboration, reflecting the culture of the school. However, after letters home and announcements made, not one recipe had been turned in. So I connected with the school’s Student Government Association. What came next was a collaborative brainstorm of some of the brightest 3rd-5th graders I’ve met!

They suggested a recipe box in the office, posters on the walls, emails to teachers to offer their recipes. They shared their thoughts on the contents of the book too, that we should include a page on where to get fresh vegetables. Collaboration brings such joy, for all to come to the table to share. We’re still on our way to making this recipe book the best it can be.

Grove Park didn’t stop there with healthy fundraisers. The Fabulous, Loving, Intelligent, Gifted, Healthy (FLIGH) Girls group at Grove Park, started by the school’s gifted and talented teacher Ms. Jenkins, is grounded in empowering girls, teaching them how to grow and cook healthy food, practice yoga, and dance.

The FLIGH Girls wanted to raise money for their leadership retreat, but instead of pulling out their frozen cookie dough order forms, they pulled out the school’s Vitamix, and started making fruit smoothies!

Ms. Jenkins used the opportunity as a teaching moment, so the students got to name the smoothie flavors, and gave critical thought to feedback on the business venture. Is the product sold at the right price ($3), are we meeting the needs of our clients?

Students became entrepreneurs, and it paid off. After three days of mostly selling out of supplies, the girls had achieved their funding goal for their leadership retreat! All with the power of nature’s sweeteners.
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While we have made strides, I must add that the 5th grade team did just begin a full-fledged snack cart fundraiser, complete with hot cheetos and candy. There will always be competition,, but as they say, health is wealth!

Let’s seek to live out that truth by fundraising with the future in mind, the healthy way.

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