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

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.

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