How Schools Can Raise Money Without Unhealthy Vending Contracts and Fundraisers

Analysis of unhealthy and healthy food vending contract profits and alternative fundraising for schools

    • October 17, 2008

The Center for Science in the Public Interest analyzed the economic impact of school vending machine contracts, investigated the problems associated with school fund-raisers involving low-nutrition foods and identified alternative fund-raising methods that do not compromise student health.

Key Findings

  • Schools raised modest amounts of money from beverage contracts, with average revenue of $18 per student per year. That represents only one-quarter of 1 percent of the average cost of a student's education.
  • The majority (67%) of the revenue collected from drink sales goes to beverage companies, not schools.
  • Beverage contracts are less profitable to schools than are other forms of fund-raising.
  • School beverage contracts often provide marketing benefits to beverage companies, such as signage and exclusivity arrangements.
  • Some 85 percent of snacks and 75 percent of beverages in school vending machines are of poor nutritional quality.
  • Cash-strapped schools can raise as much money with healthier fund-raising options, such as walk-a-thons and book fairs, as they can with those that rely on unhealthy foods and beverages.
  • Bake sales are unhealthy and largely unprofitable, as parents pay twice: once for the ingredients and a second time to purchase the items.
  • Some 80 percent of products eligible for label-redemption fund-raising programs are of poor nutritional quality.

Key Recommendations

  • Communities should negotiate better contracts by becoming more informed of the finances, beverage options and promotional terms offered by vending contracts.
  • Schools should avoid unhealthy fund-raising options, such as sales of junk food and fund-raisers at fast-food restaurants.