School Fundraisers Get Healthy

Dolphin Dash 2Some 375 runners and walkers of all ages gathered at Lake Sybelia Elementary School in the early morning hours November 15 to participate in the school’s second annual Dolphin Dash 5K, a healthy and fun PTA fundraiser that generates money for school projects.

The PTA wanted to launch a fundraiser that emphasized health and fitness and got the whole community involved.

It succeeded, and the event generated a little over $30,000 which is being used to buy 30 laptops and a cart for the school.

On April 24, Audubon Park Elementary School will hold Bust-A-Move, a PTA-sponsored event which will feature a lively walk interspersed with activity stations where students can do the limbo, jumpDolphin Dash 3 ropes, hop, sprint and dance. Pledges gathered by participating students will be used for school projects.

And the Lion’s Pride Fund at Glenridge Middle School hosted a Color Run in January to raise school funds, and in May it will host a Harlem Wizard’s basketball game that will give staff members the chance to get active and raise money. Staff members from Glenridge and its feeder schools will compete against the Wizards.

While school fundraisers might at one time have revolved around the sale of candy bars and baked goods, schools are looking for new ways to generate project funds, and more and more often, schools are looking for projects with a healthy twist.

This healthy focus comes at the same time new guidelines governing in-school fundraisers are going into effect.

The new guidelines, which require snacks sold at school to meet federal nutrition guidelines, are the result of the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010. They were incorporated into the Orange County Public Schools (OCPS) Wellness Policy in February.

School day fundraisers involving foods also are governed by the guidelines, although schools can approve a limited number of fundraisers that don’t meet these standards during the school year. Elementary schools can have up to five days to conduct exempted fundraisers, middle schools—up to 10 days and senior high schools—up to 15 days.

Healthy School Teams, made up of school teachers, staff and parents and based at each school, have been asked to help monitor the new guidelines and are available to serve as a resource for healthy fundraising ideas.

Nutrition guidelines, however, don’t affect fund raising activities beginning 30 minutes after the last bell of the school day.

The new guidelines are prompting schools and organizations to rethink fundraising tactics. To help them adjust, the Orange County Public Schools Food and Nutrition Services Department has posted a list of resources on its webpage including ideas for healthy fundraisers.

“The goal in all of this it to help ensure a healthier generation,” explained Melodie Griffin, State Coordinator for Action for Healthy Kids in Florida, and a consultant to the Winter Park Health Foundation (WPHF). “Schools can do their part providing healthy meal options and organizations can join in by developing healthy fundraisers. Students are the winners when we all work together to make healthier choices easier.”

“Research clearly shows healthy students are better learners,” she added.

To learn more the OCPS School Wellness Policy and snack guidelines, click here.

To learn more about the USDA Smart Snacks guidelines, click here.