Fundraising methods for modern times


It might seem a bit unorthodox, but Jessica Shelly searches for foodservice program funding on Google.

Shelly, director of food services for Cincinnati Public Schools, sets Google Alerts for a bundle of different keywords, including one constant: “grant.” Google’s timely emails have helped her win money from Fuel Up to Play 60 through American Dairy, United Fresh’s Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools, Action for Healthy Kids, Share Our Strength, and even school gardens from companies such as Annie’s and Welch’s—organizations she might have never thought of.  

Shelly is also creative about how she uses the equipment she wins. For instance, when she wanted to install mobile salad bars in her district, she applied for several breakfast grants because the same kiosks could be used for both purposes. “If you’re out there looking for salad bar grants, you may never find that,” she says. “At first it raised some eyebrows [among grantors]. Then they got the gist—they’re helping me move the needle across my entire mission. Make sure you’re thinking holistically, not just narrowly focused.”

Finding time for funding

Victoria Fuller, food service director at USD 374 in Sublette, Kan., works hard to find every grant possible. Her strategy: Go big, stay honest, skip any questions you can’t answer and, above all, budget a little bit of time to work on the application every day.

This approach helped Sublette win a $52,300 Food Service Equipment Assistance Grant from the Kansas State Department of Education in 2017. Included were two double convection ovens, two 10-burner ranges and two 30-quart standing mixers. “I have other things to do, so I had to prioritize my time to get this grant application done and perfected,” Fuller says. “It was definitely worth it.”

Fundraising with food

Beyond grants is the possibility of creative, attention-grabbing fundraisers that involve food. The Beach Food Pantry in Kitty Hawk, N.C., found an on-mission formula with its Holiday Chefs Challenge, held in December. The twist: Chefs must use some of the most donated food pantry items to make gourmet meals. Winning dishes have included Cap’n Crunch Fried Chicken with Sriracha Honey Drizzle and Loaded Cheddar-Havarti Mac & Cheese.

The annual event is so successful, it moved to a bigger venue in 2017 and still sold out, with more than 300 attendees paying $65 each, Executive Director Theresa Armendarez says. It  has become the nonprofit’s biggest fundraiser, smashing its $27,000 goal for 2017 by raising $40,000.

As food insecurity becomes a bigger issue in primary schools, colleges and beyond, the formula would be worth replicating elsewhere, Armendarez says. “People love it,” she says. “One of the top things I hear is that the food is so good.”

More From FoodService Director

Menu Development
fsd culinary council

Michigan Dining’s executive chef, Frank Turchan, and his team prepared many of the meals for attendees during FoodService Director’s second annual Culinary Council Summit, held in early October. The final multicourse dinner took place at Maizie’s Kitchen & Market, a new venue that is part of the Marketplace in the Michigan League, a campus building built in 1929.

The Marketplace, which was carved out of a former study hall, offers hot meal service and a grab-and-go section featuring bento boxes, charcuterie boards and meal kits customers can take home for dinner. There’s also...

Menu Development
fsd culinary council

Avocados are a staple on mainstream menus, yet many foodservice operations limit their use to guacamole, avocado toast, sandwiches and salads. The 12 chefs attending FoodService Director’s Culinary Council Summit, held this fall at University of Michigan, learned how to take avocados into new menu territory through a presentation by sponsor Avocados from Mexico and hands-on kitchen time with its chef, Brian Wilford.

Chef Wilford began with a demo of avo-chicharrons —fried avocado wedges coated with crushed chicharrons or pork rinds. He served these with Mexican crema for dipping,...

Industry News & Opinion

Time Magazine recently named Houston Independent School District (HISD) Officer of Nutrition Services Betti Wiggins one of its 50 most influential people in healthcare .

Wiggins joined HISD in 2017, overseeing the district’s nutrition program, which serves over 280,000 meals daily. During the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey last year, Wiggins helped serve breakfast, lunch and dinner to students and their families and played a role in making meals free for all students for the rest of the school year. Today, the district (the nation's seventh-largest) continues to provide meals to...

Industry News & Opinion
food as medicine market

University Hospitals in Cleveland has opened a new Food for Life Market, which will provide healthy food as a means to address chronic health conditions as well as the issue of food insecurity for patients and nearby residents.

University Hospitals will offer patients one week’s worth of food free of charge following a referral from their physician. Patients will also receive the option to meet with University Hospital dietitians who can help them with their dietary needs by encouraging optimal food choices.

Patients are also eligible to receive food assistance once a month...

FSD Resources

Code for Asynchronous jQuery Munchkin Tracking Code