SHIP Success Story

SHIP story

Zimmerman schools prove fundraising can be healthy

Schools have always been community trendsetters. As the public re-evaluates how money should be raised for schools that need to fill gaps in funding, Sherburne County can turn to two Zimmerman elementary schools for an idea on how to succeed with suitable fundraisers.

Community leaders are starting to realize that bakes sales, label redemption programs and family nights at fast food restaurants might not be the best ways to raise funds for schools. They can promote unhealthy lifestyles and send the wrong message.

Zimmerman and Westwood elementary schools came up with an effective alternative with student walkathons. The schools, with combined enrollment of approximately 1,200 students, earned about $30,000 with its October 2014 walkathon and about $21,000 in October 2015. All of the money went to the school and was used for field trips and programs.

Thankfully, schools have begun to think outside the box and healthy fundraisers are becoming more common. - Alison Miller, Community Health Coordinator for Sherburne County Health and Human Services

The move away from the old fundraisers also supports the Statewide Health Improvement Partnership's goal to improve community and school health by encouraging healthier eating and more physical activity.

“Many of the easy-fix fundraisers promote unhealthy choices,” said Alison Miller, Community Health Coordinator for Sherburne County Health and Human Services, the SHIP grantee for Sherburne County. “The walkathon was a fun and healthy adventure that students and staff enjoyed.”

New fundraisers get schools to ‘think outside the box’

Traditional fundraisers can also be expensive. Bake sales require parents’ time, effort and money. They usually purchase the ingredients and spend time baking and selling the goods. Frequently, they also buy the goods at the sale. As a result, they end up paying multiple times for the low-nutrition foods. “Parents feel pressured to participate,” Miller said.

Congress requires school district wellness policies to address nutrition and physical activity. In response, many districts have guidelines that have gone above and beyond the federal requirements of addressing nutrition and physical activity and implementing healthy school fundraisers. 

Many people also believe that food-based fundraisers send the wrong message. It tells students that their schools care more about making money than their health.

Zimmerman’s elementary schools are working to address those issues. The walkathons are just one step in the overhaul of school policy that address healthy fundraisers. The schools are conducting a box-top collection but other food-based fundraisers are being phased out.

“Thankfully, schools have begun to think outside the box and healthy fundraisers are becoming more common,” Miller said.

Updated Tuesday, January 17, 2017 at 11:47AM