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Bye-Bye Junk Food! New Company Makes Fundraising Healthy

FarmRaiser helps students sell wholesome food for good causes

Published on: April 04, 2016

I often wish my children didn't have to sell junk food for fundraisers. Granted, I just finally cured myself of eating two frozen Thin Mints after every evening meal but you know what I mean. Why not apples rather than sweets for school and team fundraisers?

That, it turns out, is exactly the thought Mark Abbott had after his son sold $350 worth of junk food for a fundraiser. He pointed out that sure, he'd sold a lot of candy but "Dad, we would never eat this stuff in our house."

Photo credit: FarmRaiser

Abbott realized no one was linking wholesome foods to fundraising and so in May 2013, he founded FarmRaiser. The company connects farms and food artisans to local schools and organizations looking to raise money. Its campaigns have raised more than $200,000 to date.

FarmRaiser also gives schools a 45 percent minimum profit from sales. Traditionally, schools receive 25 to 40 percent, says FarmRaiser director of partnerships and marketing Japhet Koteen.

The cool news for Washington state: More than 20 FarmRaiser campaigns will be completed by the end of this school year. They've included Montlake Elementary fifth graders selling products from Mt. Townsend Creamery, Ballard Bee Company and Bellewood Acres to fund a field trip to Bainbridge Island's IslandWood. McGilvra Elementary, Bellevue's Lake Hills Soccer Club and Queen Anne Elementary have also all used the program.

One other feature, Koteen points out: Students can identify a charity and ask supporters to donate money for those in need. Schools receive 50 percent of every sale; the rest of the funds purchase goods for the charity. For example, Steven's Elementary community basket sale supported Tutu's Pantry, which filles backpacks with easy-to-prepare meals for children in need. Now there's something to fill the belly and the soul.

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