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Fresh from the Farm: Healthy Fundraising for Ontario Schools

Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while now will know that I am a champion for food education. I’ve been teaching boys to cook in my after school clubs over the past nearly six (!) years and nearly every chance I get, I try to promote healthy choices and real food (even managing to get it into my curriculum now and then!).  One of the questions I get asked the most by others who want to help promote food education in their communities/ schools/ homes is “What can I do?”. Well today, I’m sharing a wonderful new initiative here in Ontario that would be a great start – Fresh from the Farm.

We all know fundraising season is about to begin in school communities everywhere (you know the ones – chocolate bars, candies, wrapping paper, cookies…). Well Fresh from the Farm is here to provide healthy fundraising options to schools by selling local Ontario fruit and vegetables.  Instead of selling unhealthier options, students sell “bundles” of fresh, Ontario fruit and vegetables (potatoes, carrots, onions, sweet potatoes, apples) for their fundraising efforts, and Fresh From the Farm delivers them to the schools for distribution!

Fresh From the Farm veggiesSince September 2013, over 150 Ontario schools have successfully piloted Fresh from the Farm, collectively distributing almost 130,000 kilograms of fresh, local fruit and vegetables to Ontario families, and raising more than $112,000 for school initiatives. Bonus? An additional $150,000 was returned to Ontario farmers. It’s a win-win situation for everyone – schools get to raise the funds they need, healthy eating is promoted in the school community and at home, and local farmers and the local economy are supported.

Fresh From the Farm sponsors

 

The programme is a collaboration between the Ontario Ministry of Education, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association, and Dietitians of Canada.

 

Who can participate?

You can see the entire list of Ontario elementary and secondary school boards that are eligible to participate here.

What’s for sale?

  • Bundle A ($10) includes: 3 lb Carrots, 3 lb Onions, 5 lb Potatoes, and 3 lb Sweet Potatoes from Ontario
  • Bundle B ($15) includes: 8 lb box of Ontario Apples

How much money does the school make? What about the farmers?

  • Schools make 40 per cent of total revenue collected (less a $60 delivery fee)
  • Farmers are returned 50 per cent
  • Fresh from the Farm receives 10 per cent which goes towards program sustainability

What do I do if I want to get my school involved?

Have a School Champion (person responsible for coordinating fundraising efforts in a school) enrol your school before October 9th 2015.

Ok, my school is enrolled, now what?

Fundraising can take place until October 16th 2015, the deadline for orders, then deliveries will take place in November. Imagine receiving a bundle of local produce in the dark days of November – nothing more motivating to get in the kitchen and cook some great real food meals from scratch!

Fresh Take on School FundraisingUnfortunately, my own school is not eligible to participate but I hope some of you will pass this information on to those responsible in your own (kids’) schools and that they might sign up.

Sometimes the enormity of the need for food education in schools makes me feel a little overwhelmed and like I will never be able to do anything about it.  However, ultimately, I believe big changes come from a lot of smaller changes, made consistently over a long period of time and this initiative certainly speaks to that.  We’re not changing the system (i.e. fundraising is here to stay) but we’re changing the way we think about it and how we do it. Change also begins with conversations and I can only imagine the conversations that will take place during delivery week when people are receiving their bundles of fresh Ontario produce!  People talking about food and cooking is the first step to making real food, nutrition and healthy choices a part of our everyday lives, not just something reserved for New Year’s Resolutions.

So how about it? Let’s make 2015 the year we begin to fundraise healthfully.

Disclosure: I received compensation from Fresh from the Farm in collaboration with Food Bloggers of Canada in return for promoting this initiative. All opinions are my own and I will only write about a product/ programme/ initiative if I support it myself.

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3 Responses to Fresh from the Farm: Healthy Fundraising for Ontario Schools

  1. Mr. Neil September 14, 2015 at 09:13 #

    What an amazingly FANTASTIC idea!

    I am curious re all that carrying of lots of food bundles….a little heavier than those chocolate-covered almonds. 😉

    And not sure it will get quite the same impulse buy…

    BUT, when I think of all the people I see in offices who want to help a school fundraiser, and frankly spend $2 or $3 on a chocolate bar or tissue or something that is so inflated in cost – this seems a much better option for everyone!

    I do hope it continues to grow…

    • Mardi Michels September 14, 2015 at 09:15 #

      Actually the kids don’t carry the produce around – people order and there’s certain day specified for the deliveries to schools and people pick their produce up there. Such a clever idea!

  2. Coco in the Kitchen September 14, 2015 at 18:48 #

    This is a brilliant idea! I love it.
    Have to figure out a way to pitch it to the schools in my area.

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