Interview: Celebrating Día de los Muertos

In Mexico (where many of our coffee producer partners are located) and other parts of the Americas, many people are celebrating Día de los Muertos, also known as Day of the Dead! In honor of this holiday, we talked to former Equal Exchanger Hope Kolly and her mom, Emma Kolly, about how they celebrate. Hope is based in Austin, Texas, and Emma grew up in Cuernavaca, Mexico, giving us a unique take on traditions in both the U.S. and Mexico. 


What is Día de los Muertos about?

Hope:  To me, Día de los Muertos is about remembering friends and loved ones who have died and celebrating those lives and life in general with your friends and family who are still here.  Unlike Halloween, it’s not a scary or creepy holiday but an acknowledgement that death is a part of life and when we remember our loved ones, they continue to live in us.

It comes from a blending of indigenous beliefs of people mostly from southern Mexico and Central America with Christian beliefs spread by European colonizers.  It comes from a time when many indigenous people buried their families under their houses and decorated with their actual skulls to remember them and keep them close and safe.  They believed there was a time (originally in the summer) when spirits could come back to this world to visit so you would help guide them by decorating and lighting candles for them and put out things they liked and things to help them rest from their long journey.  That’s why many ofrendas (altars or offerings) have things like water and cloths to wash up, favorite foods and objects.     

Emma: It’s about celebrating life and remembering the people we love that went before us and keeping their memory alive. The first of November is the day to celebrate children and youth who have died, and it’s Día de los Santos (Day of the Saints, sometimes known as Day of the Little Angels, which coincides with the Christian All Saints Day) and the second of November is Día de los Muertos , which is for everyone else. It’s the circle of life.

What does it mean to you?

Hope: For me, a lot of the meaning comes in connecting to my Mexican heritage. I think about the generations before me, unknown because my mom was adopted and there is little in the way of information or documentation about them, but maybe known or felt a little bit through this celebration and ritual. I also feel like it expresses a very culturally particular way of looking at death not as something fearful or not talked about as is so often the case in the U.S. but something that is present, respected and part of the natural cycles and rhythms of life.

What are some traditions? Any that are particularly special to you?

Emma: We traditionally cook things for people that passed away, their favorite things they liked to eat and drink. You take the food to the cemetery or the altar and offer it to the spirits, to come taste what you made, and afterward you eat the food with your family. You also make calaveritas (little sugar skulls) with the names of the deceased written on the skull for the altar or ceremony.  Some people make chascarrillos, which are little sayings, poems or stories about death, making fun, remembering, saying loving words. Sometimes you make them for living people and they’re always fun.

What’s your favorite Day of the Dead tradition?

Hope: My favorites are the Sugar Skulls!  Usually in Mexico you can buy them at the market  and even have them personalize them with the name of a departed loved one but they’re harder to come by in many parts of the U.S. so I started making my own and inviting friends over to decorate them and to share this holiday with folks.  I started this when I moved to New England many years ago — I think I was missing home and was sad that no one seemed to celebrate the Day of the Dead.  Now that I moved back to Texas and closer to family I still like to make them and get my nephew and niece involved.

I also make an ofrenda or altar every year.  I love gathering pictures of my loved ones who have passed, remembering them as I put them out and decorating with papel picado (cut paper flags), flowers, candles, sugar skulls (of course) and treats.  I especially love it if someone is visiting and they ask me about someone on the altar so I can share a story.  

Emma: My favorite is that you tell stories about the people that are gone. You share experiences and keep the memory of the person alive. For example, my grandkids don’t know some people who have passed, like my sisters — so I tell them stories about them so they know they existed.

Sometimes the whole town gets together for parades or a party. In small towns everybody invites you to eat what they made — tamales, moles, all kinds of things. You have a lot of drinking. Some people take mariachis to the cemetery and take drinks and cervezas and tequilas… sometimes they go till all hours. Some people take candles and flowers.  Everybody express their own unique way.  

Are there differences between the way folks celebrate in the U.S. versus in Mexico?

Hope: I’m more used to what goes on in the U.S. but living in Austin, Texas, I’ve seen many non-hispanic folks embrace the holiday and bring their own spin to it.  Every year there is a Viva la Vida festival and parade to celebrate the Day of the Dead and there are folks dressed up as traditional Catrinas (skeletal fancy ladies) and then there is an Austin Weird category which can be a bit hipster, a bit western or a bit punk rock. I’ve definitely noticed an uptick in sugar skull imagery in decorations over the years.  It’s so great that folks are interested in this holiday, I just hope that they learn about the origin of the celebration and the cultures from which it comes.

Emma: There are some places in Mexico with a tradition of trick-or-treating, too. Little kids go around with a calabacita (little gourd) that they decorate and ask for candy and people sing, “La calavera tengo hambre, no hay un huesito por ahi?” (The skull is hungry, are there no bones for me?) and then they give them a huesito or pan or little treat. It’s not as much as here in the U.S., but some people do it on some streets and kids go and get things.

 

Do you have a memory or story you’d like to share from this holiday?

Hope: I remember when I was about 4 or 5 years old and my family was living in San Antonio, Texas that my parents got us some sugar skulls.  They kept telling us that they are supposed to be decorations and that we shouldn’t eat them but I couldn’t help myself and I started licking the back of the skull when no one was looking.  The next day I noticed that the ants had found my skull so we had to throw them out.  I also learned from the first ofrenda that I did as an adult that you should make sure you remove all the treats and food from the altar overnight if you have a cat.  Unless you like half eaten food and knocked over decorations the next day.

Emma: In my adopted house, we were more into praying and making the altar very simple. My parents were a lot more into the spiritual. And when I got to know my birth mother, I remember the first time I saw my mom and sister doing the altar of the dead — I was amazed! — because they got so much food and flowers. It was like a whole room was tamales and two types of mole, bread and salads — I mean it was like a crazy amount of food and candles and drinks. My mom had a lot of people that passed away and so it was like a humongous feast. I had never seen anything so elaborate. It was a different kind of celebration — different than what I was used to when I was little. But it was equally important and spiritual in their own way. It made me appreciate my roots and upbringing.

Is there anything else that you’d like to share or think that people misunderstand about the holiday?

Emma: I think there is some misunderstanding. I think some people think the holiday venerates death, the kind of dark side, which is not true — it doesn’t come from that. It celebrates life and the ones that are not here and it gives us a better understanding of death.  That it’s just a natural thing that’s going to come, it’s something that you can’t get away from and not to be so afraid of it. It’s sad and it’s hard, but it’s also a part of growing, a part of the circle. And people think, “oh, they get drunk in the cemeteries” and they think it’s like a pagan festival and it’s not — it’s really not. It’s more about spiritual, about connecting to the people that are gone in different ways, and looking for that spiritual togetherness that we always know we have with the people that are living.

One of Hope’s homemade sugar skulls.

 

Fundraising with Our School Values

An Equal Exchange fundraiser was a natural fit for our school because it incorporated many of the same values that are central to Montessori philosophy and our school. We believe in building a global community by reaching out to others who have similar values, and Equal Exchange provided us with a fundraising opportunity that also supported our own mission.

One example of the similarity in values between our two organizations is within our mission statements: Equal Exchange is a co-operative that believes in equality for their workers and free speech. At Durango Montessori, our students created our Student Mission Statement which includes the statement: “we will ‘compliment and encourage ourselves and each other each day.’” Similar to Equal Exchange, our school values students in leadership roles and we are committed to listening to our students’ opinions and ideas on how we can enhance our vibrant community.

Durango Montessori is not profit driven, and we believe that running a non-profit school is for the benefit of all. Similarly, Equal Exchange puts people before profit in business. Our teachers are empowered to help make decisions with the school directors. As one of the directors of our school, I appreciate Equal Exchange looking critically at Fair Trade USA and fighting to assure that small farmers are supported and can remain in existence despite the corporate competition that exists.

Pictured: Students at Durango Montessori watching the Solar Eclipse this August. 

6 Tips for Your Holiday Fundraiser

Believe it or not, the holiday season is the perfect time for a fundraiser. People are on the lookout for great gifts and will be happy to support your fundraiser while taking care of their holiday shopping. We have 6 ideas for how to make your holiday fundraiser festive, fun and successful!

1. Decorate! If you are having a table to promote your fundraiser and give out samples, use a festive tablecloth, decorate your table with lights, or set up a small basket to highlight our products and get people in the gift-giving mindset.

2. Use our holiday posters. Hang up our holiday-themed posters around your table or in your school hallways. If you would like us to send you a print version of the posters, please email fundraising@equalexchange.coop.

4. Emphasize how well the products work as gifts. Coffee, chocolate, cocoa and tea are universally-appreciated kitchen essentials, and ours are organic, fairly traded and exceptionally delicious! As gifts, these products say that you care about quality, taste and sourcing.

5. Share the mission. Make sure your community knows that your fundraiser benefits both your community and farming communities worldwide. These products support equitable, alternative supply chains, environmental stewardship and democratic co-operatives — and that’s something to get excited about! Our posters and brochures will help you explain Equal Exchange’s mission and trade practices.*

6. Make distributing the products fun! Turn distribution into a fun and festive group activity with just a few craft supplies. Set up a table in your distribution room with construction paper, ribbon, markers, glitter glue or whatever else appeals to you. After the participants collect their products, encourage them to visit the crafts table and decorate! They can wrap their coffee or tea so they are ready to give as gifts, create a card to put inside the gift boxes, or even dress their chocolate bars up like snowmen! Check out more DIY craft ideas here.

7. Send a holiday message. Before your school break, send a holiday message of good cheer and gratitude by email or on Facebook. Thank everyone for participating and wish them a happy holiday and new year! Encourage people to send in photos of them giving their gifts to family and friends. Next year, you can share these with your community and show how much these gifts meant to the people that received them.

If you have not signed up for your fundraiser yet, click here to get started!

 

*If you plan on including the photos in printed materials, please include “Photo courtesy of Equal Exchange”.

Fundraising and Values at Kimberton Waldorf School

At Kimberton Waldorf School (KWS), education of the Head, Heart and Hands is the foundation for raising students to be creative thinkers, compassionate global citizens, and leading edge innovators both at home and in the world. With over 75 years of holistic teaching, committed teachers and staff have provided endless opportunities for environmental and experiential learning on the 430-acre setting in bucolic Chester County, PA.

Learning academics through the prism of art, working in the organic garden and visiting the biodynamic yogurt farm (Seven Stars Farm) across the street, all set the basis for local and offsite field trips as the children increase in age, confidence and skills.  The yearly class trip is an eagerly anticipated vehicle for engaging students in a deeper experience of learning and practicing principles brought forth in the curriculum. Challenging many students in new arenas both personally and as a team, class trips expand a student’s vision of him/herself and of the larger community in which they live.

Fundraising and Values at Kimberton Waldorf School
Pictured: Mr. Peter Lehman, class teacher and trip organizer.

Last year, Mr. Peter Lehman, a class teacher since 1983, decided that his 7th grade class (who had been with him since 1st grade) would embark upon a wilderness adventure involving hiking, canoeing and sustainability practices. Kroka Expeditions in New Hampshire was the natural choice for this pivotal experience. With the motto “Where Consciousness Meets Wilderness,” Kroka would provide another level of depth and learning for the students, expanding upon the many values of Waldorf Education. We knew this worthwhile cause would require a substantial amount of fundraising and that key opportunities needed to be identified in order to achieve our goal.

As prior classes at KWS have done, our class eagerly chose Equal Exchange (EE) as one of its core fundraisers. Mr. Lehman was key to motivating the students to participate wholeheartedly in this inspirational fundraiser as the values of Fair Trade and helping people create better lives for their families, while demonstrating stewardship of the environment, rang through and true to all. Each EE product carries with it stories of various families and cultural regions — a mother empowering her children by being able to send them to school, a father able to provide good food for his family, and many other heartwarming stories.

One product in particular that spoke to many of the parents who visited our table sales was the ‘Proud Mama’ coffee. With many mothers at our school well-versed in babycarrying using slings, and the daily sacrifices made to send our children to the values-rich Waldorf education, the notion that empowerment via work was making a difference to mothers in other countries as to whether or not their children could attend school struck a deep chord of compassion within many hearts. The benefits of buying an EE gift go far beyond the purchase itself, extending back to its creator and forward to its recipient.

As the time of year chosen for the fundraiser was well before the holidays, Fundraising and Values at Kimberton Waldorf Schoolit was easy to remind students and families that EE products make delicious gifts while directly making a positive impact in the world. Suddenly, the many tasks of employing catalog sales, table sales, compiling orders, sorting, checking, double-checking and delivering orders, became welcome and energizing tasks. Truly, the students were making a difference locally and globally. The fruits of their labors, beyond the delicious chocolates and beverages, were gleaned when the students finally left school one Sunday morning in May for the long-awaited adventure of a lifetime. Parents eagerly awaited the return of the students and hoped to hear stories of this precious and poignant week, after a busy year of fundraising.

With a commitment to sustainability, empowerment, service and education, KWS students become vibrant young adults and engaged citizens of the world. Equal Exchange is a natural choice for our students and we look forward to seeing this year’s 7th grade class participate in this valuable fundraiser!  

(For more info:  www.kimberton.org)

Fundraising and Values at Kimberton Waldorf School

 Photos taken by Kroka Expeditions and Zeliha Sogay, 
   class parent, during the 7th grade class trip in May

 

Our Favorite Halloween Recipes

 

Halloween is all about the sweets, and if you’re like us, you’re getting creative in the kitchen this month! If you’re looking for the perfect shareable treat for your costume party or spooky soiree, try some of our favorite recipes below. Each features our fairly traded, organic chocolate or cocoa, sourced from co-ops in the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Panama and Peru. We’re proud to offer delicious ingredients that support small farmers and an alternative cacao supply chain, and we hope you’ll enjoy sharing them! Tell us your favorite Halloween or fall recipe in the comments.

Chocolate Apples
5 from 2 votes
Print

Chocolate-Covered Apples

Course Dessert
Keyword Chocolate, Halloween
Servings 1 apple

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Wash and dry apple. Stick a candy-apple type stick (or something similar) into the stem. Make sure it is stable.
  2. Melt chocolate and oil in a bowl for 60 seconds, stirring every twenty seconds, until fully melted. The chocolate and oil should be evenly combined and the texture should be smooth. If the chocolate seems dry or clumpy, add a bit more oil- though there will be tiny caramel and sea salt crystals in the chocolate.
  3. Place the apple in the bowl with melted chocolate. Using a spoon, cover the apple in chocolate and smooth out as best you can. Take apple out of bowl and make sure it is evenly coated.
  4. Set apple down on wax paper or a plate, with the stick pointing up. Refrigerate for at least half of an hour.
  5. Eat soon after refrigeration.

Recipe Notes

Multiply the ingredients for desired quantity.

 

cupcakes on a plate
5 from 2 votes
Print

Halloween Cupcakes

Course Dessert
Keyword Cupcakes, Halloween
Servings 24 cupcakes

Ingredients

For the cupcakes:

For the frosting:

  • 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter softened
  • 1/3 c. vegetable shortening
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 4 to 5 c. glazing sugar or confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract Pure Vanilla Plus, or a mixture of both
  • 1/4 to 1/3 c. milk
  • Natural Food Dye

Instructions

Cupcakes:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two standard 12-cup muffin pans with paper or silicone muffin cups, and grease the cups.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cocoa, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and chocolate chips. Set aside.
  3. In a large measuring cup or medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla, oil, and vinegar. Stir this mixture into the dry ingredients, mixing until everything is well combined.
  4. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin pans, filling the cups about 3/4 full.
  5. Bake the cupcakes for 20 to 22 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center of one of the middle cupcakes comes out clean.
  6. Remove the cupcakes from the oven, and as soon as you can handle them, remove them from the pan, and transfer to a rack to cool. Store cooled cupcakes airtight.

Frosting:

  1. Beat together the butter, shortening, and salt.
  2. Add the sugar, vanilla, and ¼ c. milk, and beat until fluffy. Add additional milk if the frosting seems too stiff to spread.

 

5 from 1 vote
Print

Pumpkin Chocolate Muffins

Course Dessert
Keyword Halloween, Muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 2/3 cups flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 15 oz pureed pumpkin
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup butter melted
  • 1 cup Equal Exchange Organic Chocolate Chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease muffin pan(s) or line with muffin papers. 

  2. Mix flour, sugars, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. 

  3. In another bowl, break eggs and add pumpkin and butter. Stir rapidly until well blended. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour over dry ingredients and fold in. Do not over mix.

  4. Scoop into pan and bake 20-25 minutes. They should still seem a little underdone when removed from the oven – test with a toothpick.

5 from 1 vote
Print

Black Magic Brownies

Course Dessert
Keyword Brownies, Halloween
Servings 9

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease an 8x8 square baking dish.

  2. Combine all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish. 

  3. Bake until the top is dry and the edges start to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 30 minutes.

Recipe Notes

Recipe courtesy of Katrina Morales from Rollin' Oats Market and Cafe, from a Cooking with Equal Exchange Chocolate Class.

Holiday Sale Inspiration: Gift Baskets!

This year, give back to your community and to farmers around the world by offering conscious consumers at your congregation meaningful and unique gift options. Combine your creative talents with recycled baskets and offer one-of-a-kind pre-made gift baskets this year. By offering people a few kinds of gift-giving options, you’ll sell more and make things quick and convenient for last-minute shoppers or the less-than-crafty.

Send a call out to your congregation a few weeks in advance of your sale for donations of old baskets collecting dust at home. Collect the baskets, dust them off and give them new life by putting together pre-made baskets full of organic, fairly traded coffee, tea, cocoa and chocolate. A basket with a variety of a bag of coffee, a box of tea and a few chocolate bars always makes a delicious, well-rounded and inexpensive gift. Have some fun with creating themed baskets like a “Baker’s Basket” with our Organic Baking Cocoa, Organic Chocolate Chips and Organic Olive Oil, or a “Bold Woman” basket with Organic Lemon Ginger with Black Pepper Dark Chocolate, Organic Spicy Hot Cocoa and Organic French Roast coffee.

Dress it up with some colorful tissue paper, add a ribbon and you’ve made a ready-to-give gift! We suggest offering baskets with a variety of price points so folks can choose the right gift for each person on their list, ranging from something small but thoughtful for your co-worker to an overflowing basket of goodies for your significant other.

For lower price point gifts, you can assemble bite-sized chocolate minis in gift bags using stickers and ribbon or start with our Minis Packaging Kits and add your own special touches. Another great option is to buy some bulk bags of whole bean coffee and let folks fill their own bags. Decorate our plain paper tin-tie bags with markers, colored pencils, stickers and glitter glue, then fill them with beans from some of our most exciting blends and single origin bulk coffee bags. This is a great activity for both kids and adults!

If you’re short on time or not the craftiest, give each person an empty basket that they can fill with items of their choice. Offer complimentary ribbon or a bow to top off the basket or charge a dollar or two to cover your costs.

And don’t be afraid to ask for help from others – this is a great way to get more folks involved and let their creativity shine.

For inspiration, check out a few of the gift baskets we put together!

 

Submitted by customer Jean Marie Faltus:

Our Sisters in Coffee

by Equal Exchange Quality Control Manager Beth Ann Caspersen. Pictured above: Beth Ann with participants in the Gender Equity Training hosted by Coffee Quality Institute in 2015. 

I first started talking about the role of women in coffee production in 2010, after I participated in a women’s coffee producer meeting in Uganda. Since that time, I have met countless women farmers that have both prospered and found themselves stuck in a society without a voice. Some of these women have created strong networks that reach deep into their communities, united by weekly meetings, song and a sisterhood that is based on where they are physically located. Many of these same women also struggle to find their voice at home in their families and through their coffee businesses. Coffee farming is a difficult job; women are intimately involved in their coffee farms along with caring for the home, preparing the meals, caring for the animals and raising the children.  I have listened to women’s stories of starting the day as early as 4am and ending as late as 10pm at night. Their work is hard. Many women have felt left out of trainings due to their familial responsibilities — if they leave for the day, who will watch the children, prepare the meals and take care of the home?  

This has to change. The future of coffee depends on women and there are many women in coffee that are moving forward, attending meetings and ascending the cooperative management ladder. For example, at PRODECOOP in Nicaragua, you will see Dona Alexa Marin, a coffee farmer and gender equity champion and Fatima Lopez, who started out as the quality assistant in the cupping laboratory and now manages one of the most successful coffee mills in all of Nicaragua. The question is, what is gender equity and how are these women different from the women that are struggling? It’s a complex question.

I had the opportunity to participate in a gender equity workshop in 2015, and one of the many lessons I learned in this mixed group training was that ongoing training, education and communication are a continuous need. The reality is that many of the successes I have seen are separated by training, education and support. While women are the center of the home, being gender-inclusive and providing these same tools to husbands and families will make coffee farming families stronger. Equal Exchange has supported the Coffee Quality Institute through their Gender Equity Program to research gender issues, design programs and train hundreds of people. While there are countless case studies of women in agriculture who are successful leaders and have decision-making power in their work, we will continue to strive to do more.  Each woman I have met is different, and many of them I would call my sisters in coffee.  This spans the supply chain, from farmer to co-op manager to buyer to barista. Let’s continue to tackle some of the complex questions that arise. There are no easy answers, but I do know that our sisters in coffee are the future.

 

Ligia Lopez, Commercial Manager at PRODECOOP

Equal Exchange Green Coffee Buyer Carly Kadlec in the Quality Control Lab at PRODECOOP in Nicaragua with cuppers Ligia, Fatima, Agueda and Iris.

In honor of our sisters in coffee, and the work of women in co-ops and communities around the world, we bring you Organic Sisters’ Blend. It’s a rich Full City blend of Nicaraguan and Peruvian beans, and we hope you’ll share it with people who inspire you.

Fair Trade Events & Fundraising Ideas for Your Community

There are lots of opportunities to raise money while supporting authentic Fair Trade. Here are some suggestions to try out with your community group, school, club, or congregation.

Table Sale

A table sale can be really effective if you are interested in running a special fundraiser on your high school/college campus or at your congregation.  You will receive discounted prices when you order by the case and then you can mark items up, keeping the profit. If you are unsure of what products to order, give our customer service team a call at 774-776-7366 and they’ll help you determine what’s best for your goals or you can read our FAQ’s. We recommend selling the products at 1.5 times the cost that you purchased them for, but you can go higher or lower depending on your fundraising goal. Selling pre-packaged bags of dark chocolate minis using our mini chocolate packing kit is also a wonderful way to fundraise.

Table Sale

 

If  you’re looking to hold a table sale on your campus, think about setting up the table outside a sports game, in your dining hall, or at a concert or festival. Fair Trade Month (October) and Earth Day (April) are great times to sell. Promotion is key with this type of fundraiser. Put up posters around campus before the event letting people know where, when, and what they can purchase. Post on social media and share our short videos leading up to the sale and during the sale. And don’t forget to let everyone know what you are raising money for. Giving out samples like our bite-sized chocolate minis will attract people to your table.

If you are looking to hold a table sale at your congregation, consider doing so after services. Put a notice in the bulletin, explaining more about Equal Exchange and your fundraising efforts. The perfect time to have your first table sale is around the holidays! Check out this blog post with tips for holding a holiday sale.

Fundraising Events

Create a new tradition and lasting memories by putting together a community-wide fundraising event! This is a great way to get your everyone involved in a fun and exciting way. From bake sales highlighting  fair trade ingredients, to silent auctions of Fair Trade gift baskets to a walk-a-thon serving fairly traded iced coffee and tea, there are hundreds of events you can choose from. One of our favorite fundraiser event ideas is hosting a coffee and chocolate pairing event and charging a small admission fee for participants who get to sample a few different varieties of chocolates paired with different roast levels of coffee!

With an event, you have a platform to share more about your group and why you are raising money. While you can include this on posters and social media posts, at an event you can meet people face-to-face who are interested in helping your group. This is a great opportunity to share more about your group, your mission and how the fundraising event will help your group achieve your goals. 

Identifying and communicating the “why” regarding why people should support your group and why these products are special is the key to success.  Here are some talking points to get you started on the product side.

However you decide to fundraise, we hope you reach your goals, share your mission and engage your community through positive action!

How to Make your Fundraiser More Eco-Friendly

You already know how important it is to care for the environment through conservation and smart buying choices. Another great way you can make small but impactful changes is with your fundraiser! Here are a few tips to make your fundraiser more eco-friendly.

Go Digital

PDF Catalog: Use less paper by sending out the PDF version of our catalog instead of handing out the print version. Folks can easily browse the product selection and fundraiser info online!

Email Orders: Encourage people to submit their orders via email! We have created an Excel version of the order form that is included with the print catalog. Participants can fill out this order form and then email it to you, the organizer. Not only will this save paper, it’ll make your process easier:  instead of typing every order into the Master Order Form, you can simply copy and paste the information from the “Subtotals” column into the Master Order Form.

Below is the template for an email you can send along with the PDF catalog to introduce your fundraiser, your monetary goals and what you are raising the money for.

We are kicking off our annual fall fundraiser! This year we are partnering with Equal Exchange, a worker-owned co-operative that sells fairly traded, organic products sourced small-scale farmers from across the globe.

We are offering delicious chocolate, coffee, cocoa, tea, gift box assortments and more! The items are reasonably priced and our group makes 40% of the profit on every product we sell.

Our group’s fundraising goal is $X,XXX.

Together we can raise the funds to support:

  • ___________________
  • ___________________
  • ___________________

This year, we are going eco-friendly and will be using an online version of the fundraising catalog. Please consider saving paper by sending out the PDF version of the catalog to family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues who will be purchasing items.

We have also attached the order form to this email. You will fill out one column per customer. Once you have collected all your orders, please email this to me at [Enter Email]. Order forms are due on [Enter Date].

Please make sure you collect the payment at the time of the order. Customers may pay by cash or by check. If they decide to pay by check, they can make it out to [Name of your School/Organization]. Please also turn this in on [Enter Date].

Thank you for your support and please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns!

Promote Your Fundraiser on Social Media

Instead of hanging posters throughout the hallways of your school, use social media to promote your fundraiser. Here are some tips on how to promote your fundraiser online.

Recycle

If you’d prefer to hand out the hard copy version of the catalogs, that is okay too! The catalogs are recyclable, so please make sure you communicate that with participants and your fundraising helpers. At the end of your fundraiser when you are distributing the products, make sure that you recycle all the boxes and packing paper .

Go one step further and share information with your participants about how to recycle our bags and wrappers, some of which have special requirements due to the nature of the products. Listed below is the recycling and composting information for each product.

Chocolate Wrappers: The outer paper wrapper is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified and also recyclable. If your local recycling center accepts No. 5 plastics, then the white plastic wrapper is recyclable.

Single Serve Cups: The cup is #5 recyclable plastic. The aluminum lid is recyclable and the filter is 88% compostable.

Tea Bags: The tea, bag, tag, and string are compostable. If the tea leaves are removed from the bag, the bag, tag, and string can be recycled.

Coffee Bags: To maintain freshness and quality, we use a foil and poly bag with a degassing valve in both applications. Unfortunately, there are no recyclable coffee bags available that can provide a needed barrier to keep coffee fresh.

Purchasing Organic and Fairly Traded Products

Just by choosing Equal Exchange’s organic products, you are supporting environmental stewardship and eco-friendly practices. Not only do organic farming methods protect farmers, the land and you from harmful chemicals, they contribute to healthier ecosystems, biodiversity and farm resilience.

As part of our alternative trade partnerships, farmers receive above-market prices for their crops along with an additional premium. These funds help farmers invest in their land, from farm renovation projects, to development of organic materials, to sustainability projects and more.

For example, our Peruvian cacao partners at Oro Verde are currently working hard to identify high quality, productive and disease-resistant cacao trees to build up an elite tree program allowing them to provide their farmers with improved varieties for the future. This includes a reforestation project that involves planting two million trees to help the co-op achieve a carbon footprint of zero! Learn about the work that our farmer partners are doing in their communities here.

How to Make: Autumn Spice Hot Cocoa

 

We have the perfect treat for fall! This easy-to-make spiced hot cocoa tastes like chocolaty pumpkin pie, and you’ll want to drink it all year long. This recipe makes enough for 16 servings, which we recommend storing in a mason jar. These jars make great gifts or items to sell at your harvest fair, fall fundraiser, or your congregation’s usual table sale. Watch the video to see how it’s made!

Holding mugs of autumn spice hot cocoa outdoors
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Autumn Spice Hot Cocoa Mix

Course Drinks
Keyword Cocoa
Servings 16

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Simply sift ingredients together in a bowl to make sure they are evenly mixed. Then, transfer to a jar and you’re ready to gift it, sell it or just keep it on hand in your kitchen.
  2. To make a single serving, take 3 tablespoons of cocoa mix and combine with 1 cup of hot milk or milk alternative. Stir well, and add marshmallows!

The key ingredient in this recipe is our Organic Baking Cocoa, which is made with organic cacao from CONACADO co-op in the Dominican Republic. This co-op is unique because the farmer members own their own cacao processing plant, which puts a key step of cocoa production into the hands of co-op members and farmers themselves. We’re proud to have partnered with CONACADO for over 10 years!

We hope you enjoy this fun fall treat. Thank you for supporting small farmers!