Archive | December, 2014

Smart Snacks in Schools

30 Dec

To build a healthier nation, we first need to build healthy habits in our younger generation. This is the principle behind the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, an initiative which is focused on improving the health of school children, by ensuring that students are offered healthier options for meals and snacks.

This initiative is changing the way our students eat, for the better. Across the U.S., school lunches are now required to include more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Driven by this initiative, the USDA has published the Smart Snacks in School standards – a comprehensive, science-based guide to school nutrition.

The Smart Snacks in School standards will support the improvement of student health, by ensuring that school kids are offered only the most nutritious and delicious foods throughout their day. It outlines strict guidelines for the selection of healthy options, and limits the availability of junk food in the education environment. According to these standards, any food offered for sale in schools must –

  • Be a “whole grain-rich” grain product, or
  • Have as the first ingredient a fruit, a vegetable, a dairy product, or a protein food; or
  • Be a combination food that contains at least 1⁄4 cup of fruit and/or vegetable; or
  • Contain 10% of the Daily Value (DV) of one of the nutrients of public health concern in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (calcium, potassium, vitamin D, or dietary fiber).

Popcorn Palace is proud to meet the USDA’s Smart Snacks in School standards, by offering delicious, healthy, nutritional gourmet snacks which appeal to students and staff alike. Our snack-sized popcorn packs can be sold in the cafeteria or snack bar during school hours, as well as at concession stands, school stores, and extracurricular events.

A healthy experience can also be a heavenly experience! Our student-appropriate options are richly flavored, low-calorie whole grain treats.  Our student-friendly gourmet selections deliver a delightful and healthy snacking experience, while falling below the outlined USDA standards for sugar, fat, and sodium content.

If you’d like to learn more about how the USDA’s Smart Snacks in School program is positively impacting the health of our students, you can read the full standards online, here. (Or, visit http://www.regulations.gov , and search for docket number FNS-2011-0019.)

To find out how Popcorn Palace can support your school’s good health, or to learn about our student-appropriate snack options, contact us today!

Popcorn Garland – A Traditional Holiday Decoration

22 Dec

In early American homes, the holidays were a time to deck the halls – but tree trimmings were often limited to what could be found in the home. Families would gather round the fire, crafting handmade ornaments from nuts, berries, and marzipan – and stringing popcorn into festive garlands, which would later bedeck their mantel and tree.

If you’re interested in carrying on this great American tradition, popcorn garlands are a fun, festive, and timeless holiday decoration, sure to please young and old alike!

These easy tips from Popcorn Palace will help you get into the holiday spirit, and make the crafting fun for everyone.

  1. Pop plain popcorn the day before you intend to make your garlands. Fresh popcorn will crumble, but yesterday’s leftovers are perfect for stringing together.
  2. Use an embroidery needle (or, one with a hole large enough to thread easily).
  3. Use dental floss instead of thread – it’s stronger, and it will pass through your popcorn kernels more easily. Also, don’t cut the floss until you’re done – leaving it on the spool will help keep your kernels from sliding off before you’re finished, and ensure that you have plenty of length.
  4. For a fancier look, alternate sections of popcorn kernels with dried (or raw) cranberries, or raisins.
  5. Hang the garland on the tree before all other decorations, and it will be less likely to tangle or catch.
  6. After the holidays are over, wrap your popcorn garland in tissue paper and seal it in a dry, airtight container to save until next year – or hang it outside, and let the local wildlife share your holiday treat!

Creating these fun and festive decorations is a great way to start a new family tradition. But remember – the hardest part of creating a popcorn garland is not eating your materials! Make sure your decorating team has a healthy snack to tide them over – check out Popcorn Palace’s delicious gourmet flavors, and you’ll find something perfect for the whole family.

Happy Holidays!
Popcorn Palace

Dos and Don’ts of Modern Fundraising

17 Dec

Smaller organizations such as school clubs, fan groups and special interest societies typically have to run at least one or two fundraisers a year to make ends meet. Some organizations simply send out a donation request to their donor mailing list, others host a gala charity event, but groups with a lower profile most commonly sell products like t-shirts or candy or popcorn to their friends, family and the general public to raise funds.

Fundraising Dos

  1. Do get organized, but don’t overdo it. It is important to keep careful track of product inventory and sales, and setting goals and firm deadlines is also a good idea. But you don’t want to have a five-page list of exactly how, what and where the product must be sold. For the most part, it’s best to let people take the initiative and trust them to exercise good judgment in selling the fundraising products.
  2. Do have an online presence. Any size organization can afford to have a website today, and it takes very little time to add a new page to an existing website. It might even be a good idea to have a dedicated website if you are running a larger fundraiser.
  3. Do get everyone involved. It’s also important to get as many people in the organization involved in the fundraiser as possible. This is especially true for school or special interest club organizations where everyone will derive benefit from the proceeds of the fundraiser.
  4. Do offer incentives. Keeping people motivated is always a good idea, and some reasonable and fun incentives (gift cards, free movie passes or night in a local B&B, etc) can create some friendly competition to help drive sales.

Fundraising Don’ts

  1. Don’t use the same fundraising idea over and over again. Both the members of the group doing the fundraising and your buyers/donors get burned out if you sell the same old tee shirts every year. You need to change things up and sell something that people can get really excited about — like more than a dozen varieties of delicious gourmet popcorn from Popcorn Palace.
  2. Don’t rely on the same people to organize the fundraiser every year. It’s just human nature that most people burn out after a couple of years leading fundraisers. Bring in new blood as much as possible to keep your fundraising team motivated and effective.
  3. Don’t forget to thank your volunteers and donors. This might seem obvious, but thanking everyone that participated in your fundraiser takes some organization. You need to have the names and  mailing/email addresses of all your buyers and your volunteers in a database, and somebody will need to spend at least a couple of hours creating mailing list and sending out bulk email thank you messages or, even better, snail-mail thank you notes.

How to Write a Great Direct Mail Fundraising Letter

10 Dec

Even great products don’t sell themselves. You’ve got to get out there and market the product you are selling in your fundraiser. An important part of that process is crafting a persuasive letter to introduce your fundraising campaign and the product you’re selling to raise funds. The product itself significantly colors your fundraising letter — you would probably take a quite different approach to your letter if you were selling raffle tickets for a cruise, for example, than if you were selling premium flavored popcorn.

Personalize Fundraising Letters

Most fundraising experts emphasize the importance of sending all personal correspondence to individuals by name. A personalized letter is much more likely to make the reader actually stop and consider making a purchase. An obvious form letter addressed to “Dear Supporter” may even get tossed in the trash without being opened.

Using Emotion

The best way to convince someone to buy something they don’t really need is to appeal to one or more emotions. Getting an emotional response from a reader makes it much more likely that they will buy the product. Someone who isn’t thinking emotionally is much more likely to say why should I buy an expensive fundraiser fruit basket when I can get almost as good fruit at the store for a third of the cost?

Your letter needs to make the reader feel like he or she is part of a bigger cause and is truly making the world a better place by their participation in your fundraiser. Everyone wants to think of themselves as generous, kind, and noble. So you want to play up that theme in your letter with something like: “I’m so glad we are lucky enough to have generous friends like you.”

Strong Attention-grabbing Intro

Another essential part of a truly effective direct mail fundraising letter is a powerful intro that grabs the attention of the reader and leads her into the critical pitch in the body of the letter. Depending on your organization, the product you’re selling and the tone of your letter, you might even consider starting the letter with a catchy headline followed by the greeting. You definitely need a strong first sentence to “hook” the reader: “Did you know that funding for music programs in Houston schools has been cut by 75% over the last five years? All of the profits from the sales of Popcorn Palace’s delicious gourmet popcorn in this fundraising campaign go directly to the music program at Beechlawn Middle School.”

Supporting Education – One Student’s Story of Success

4 Dec

A photo of Theda Robinson's son, in his new school uniform.

A photo of Theda Robinson’s son, in his new school uniform.


When Theda Robinson and her husband were looking for options to help fund their son’s Christian school education, they turned to the internet for fundraising resources. That’s how they connected with Popcorn Palace. Popcorn Palace offers more than twenty flavors of gourmet popcorn – and sponsors a fundraising program designed to help individuals and grassroots organizations raise support for their efforts.

“I am very happy that I found Popcorn Palace on-line, when I was looking for fundraiser ideas. I was really pleased when I picked up my order,” said Robinson. “We have received a lot of positive feedback!”

Finding donations to cover the rising cost of education can be difficult, which is why Popcorn Palace goes over and above to reduce the burden on schools and parents. There are no up front costs, all products are presorted by participant and delivered via UPS, and best of all – fundraisers keep 50% of the proceeds on each item sold. Popcorn Palace makes it easy for parents and schools to organize their efforts, and raise the money they need, quickly.

It was easy for the Robinsons to begin their son’s popcorn fundraiser – they simply requested Popcorn Palace’s free information kit, which included all of the information they needed to get started.

The Robinsons chose to keep it simple, focusing their fundraising efforts on their local community. “My husband and I took the brochure to work,” Robinson said. “My son took it to school, and a Wednesday night prayer meeting.”

With the support of the friendly and helpful Popcorn Palace fundraising team, and delicious free samples, Popcorn Palace’s products virtually sell themselves. The Robinsons had an excellent fundraising experience – and they easily reached their goals.

The family sold plenty of popcorn, raising more than $1200 for their son’s tuition – in under two weeks. The Robinsons found their friends and family were very willing to show their support.

“It seems everyone likes popcorn!” said Theda Robinson. “It was perfect. My family and I want to thank you for giving us the opportunity to raise money for my son’s education.”