School fundraiser restrictions

Local schools or governments can prohibit the sale of unhealthy foods such as sugar sweetened beverages, candy, and other non-nutritious snacks at school fundraisers. Such a policy can be enacted on its own or included as a component of a school district nutrition policy or government mandate.

Expected Beneficial Outcomes (Rated)

  • Reduced access to unhealthy foods

Other Potential Beneficial Outcomes

  • Improved health outcomes

Evidence of Effectiveness

Prohibiting the sale of unhealthy foods at school fundraisers is a suggested strategy to decrease access to such foods and support student health (CDC-School health). In 2013, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) proposed a rule to limit the number of non-nutritious food sales allowed annually during the school day (Federal register-NSLP).

The need to raise funds is often cited as a barrier to implementing such a policy (); however, many alternative strategies such as a-thons (e.g., walk-a-thons, jog-a-thons, dance-a-thons, read-a-thons, etc.), auctions, raffles, events (e.g., talent shows, dances, recycling drives, etc.), healthy food sales, or school spirit item sales can raise funds (NYC Health-Healthy fundraisers 2010CT SDE-Healthy fundraising 2009). Additional evidence is needed to confirm effects.

Impact on Disparities

No impact on disparities likely

Implementation Examples

Many schools across the country are trying alternatives to selling unhealthy foods at fundraisers; the Center for Science in the Public Interest has collected examples of healthy food fundraisers in California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Missouri, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, and Texas (CSPI-Success stories). 

Implementation Resources

KSDE-Fundraising ideas - Child Nutrition & Wellness. Fundraising ideas for schools. Topeka: Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE).

CSPI-Healthy fundraisers - Johanson J, Wootan MG. Sweet deals: School fundraising can be healthy and profitable. Washington, DC: Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI); 2007.

Litchfield-Non-food alternatives - Litchfield R, Nelson D, Lenahan J. Non-food alternatives for school rewards and fundraising. Ames: Iowa State University Extension and Outreach; 2009.

Winslow-Gibbons-Healthy alternatives 2008 - Winslow-Gibbons H. Healthy alternatives for school celebrations, rewards, fundraisers and snacks. Kansas City: Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS), KC Healthy Kids; 2008.

Citations - Evidence

* Journal subscription may be required for access.

Longley 2009* - Longley CH, Sneed J. Effects of federal legislation on wellness policy formation in school districts in the United States. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 2009;109(1):95-101.

CDC-School health - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Six approaches to improving student nutrition.

Federal register-NSLP - Federal Register. National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP): Nutrition standards for all foods sold in school as required by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.

CT SDE-Healthy fundraising 2009 - Connecticut State Department of Education (CT SDE). Healthy fundraising: Promoting a healthy school environment. 2009.

NYC Health-Healthy fundraisers 2010 - East & Central Harlem District Public Health Office (NYC Health), Strategic Alliance for Health (SAFH). Yes, you can! A fresh look at healthy fundraisers for schools. 2010.

Citations - Implementation Examples

* Journal subscription may be required for access.

CSPI-Success stories - Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). Healthy school fundraising success stories. Washington, DC: Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI); 2012.

Date Last Updated

Jan 15, 2014