New Federal School Fundraising Rules & Fair Trade Solutions

Last year, new federal rules on school fundraisers and snacks went into effect nationwide. These guidelines regulate the food available to kids throughout the school day, from the cafeteria to the vending machines. This includes – you guessed it – food fundraisers like bake sales and candy bar sales.

The goal is to curb the amount of sugar or unhealthy foods that kids may be consuming at school without their parents’ knowledge, which is something most parents can get behind!

Still, the new rules have left some groups at a loss for fundraising tactics. After all, bake sales and candy bar sales have been a reliable way to raise money for years. But this is actually a great opportunity to reexamine our school fundraisers in general, from the nutrition, to the quality, to the sourcing of the products we sell.

Let’s face it: the conventional candy bars we used to love are poor quality, and filled with artificial ingredients and preservatives. Worse, many conventional chocolate products are part of a problematic supply chain that includes forced child labor on cacao plantations in West Africa. When I stop to think about that one, I have to ask: shouldn’t there be federal school rules that ban any products made by exploited children?

It will probably take some time for regulation to catch up with those standards, but in the meantime, you can set a high bar for your school and your community by choosing organic, fairly traded products for your next school fundraiser. Equal Exchange’s catalog fundraiser contains real, organic, delicious chocolates made with high quality ingredients. My favorite, the Panama Extra Dark, contains a total of four ingredients (and I recognize them!): organic chocolate liquor, organic raw cane sugar, organic cocoa butter and organic ground vanilla beans. It’s that simple.

The best part about it? Each ingredient was ethically sourced from small-scale farmer co-ops, grown by adults who were paid a fair price for their crop and who are able to improve their communities through Fair Trade premiums. That means that their kids can go to school, too – not to work on a cacao plantation.

Don’t worry – an Equal Exchange fundraiser does fit in to the new federal rules. Food fundraisers are allowed as long as the food is “not intended to be consumed in school.” Because our products are ordered from a catalog by adults, kids aren’t selling candy to other kids who are hungry for a school snack. It’s safe to say our chocolates are “not intended to be consumed in school” – that is, unless you’re a teacher who orders a box of Organic Chocolate Minis for your desk drawer!

Organic chocolate bars are just the beginning of our fundraising selection. Our catalog is also filled with organic, Fair Trade coffees, teas, cocoas, nutritious snacks and even handmade artisan crafts! Let’s embrace these new federal school fundraising rules and try something that is healthier, tastier, better for the planet and better for our kids.

Learn More about Equal Exchange School Fundraising 

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