Practice Blog

To share practice related stories, create connections and engage readers in the amazing diversity of dietitian experiences.

Baking our way to Victoria: The life of a student fundraiser

Caitlin Peiris is a 3rd year nutrition student and Dietitians of Canada Senior Liasion at the Universty of Saskatchewan.  She is very interested in pursuing community nutrition and research.  And she’s multi-talented - she plays the flute in the University’s Concert Band! Caitlin can be reached at

For university students, money can be hard to come by. Nutrition students at the University of Saskatchewan know this all too well, and we dedicate a lot of time and energy to earning money in creative ways. For as valuable and exciting as the DC National Conference is, getting there on a student budget is no small feat.
As the Dietitians of Canada Liaison for my program, it is my job to facilitate this moneymaking endeavour. This is the story of 20 young women raising $9000 in 3 months to attend the National Conference in Victoria in 2013.

The rules
At the U of S, you will find the Nutrition program in an inter-professional college along with Pharmacy. For years, the agreement has been that Pharmacy fundraises in first term for their grad, and Nutrition gets second term to fundraise for the DC conference. This means January to March is ours, and in case this time isn’t already crazy enough for students, we also spend time every week finding new ways to conjure money from thin air. Pretty much anything goes, but here are a few ground rules:

  1. At the first meeting, find a partner. Bring ideas. Each pair is responsible for planning and leading one fundraising initiative.
  2. Although you don’t have to take part in every single fundraising activity, it is expected that you take part in the vast majority.
  3. Everyone contributes equally, and the money gets divided equally. The golden rule of fundraising: help others with the enthusiasm with which you want to be helped! 
Strategic Planning
In previous years, our group has sold a lot of third-party products, like magazine subscriptions or food made by other businesses. With a couple exceptions, this year we decided to focus on creative initiatives, where most of work was done by us. If we’re doing the work, then we keep the money! Not only do we not have to share the profits with other businesses, the hands-on and creative fundraisers are a lot more fun!
Major moneymakers of 2013
3rd place: Sobeys Gift Cards. This is our first fundraiser every year. We hand out forms before Christmas break so club members can hit up their relatives over the holidays (okay, so we cheated on the January start by a few weeks). As far as third-party fundraisers, Sobeys is the way to go. Donators receive the cash value of their donation ($50 donation = $50 Sobeys gift card) and depending on how much our group sells, we receive a certain percentage of the total we sold. Everyone needs groceries, right? This fundraiser is such an easy sell. We raised just over $1500 through Sobeys. Not bad!

2nd place: Taco-in-a-bag. This is an awesome new initiative that our club decided to try in 2013. It goes something like this:
  • We buy the ingredients: tortilla chips (small individual bags), sour cream, salsa, cheese, lettuce, and a meat or bean filling.
  • We set up an assembly line in the hallway
  • A little scoop of each ingredient goes into the chip bag
  • Customers hand over $5
  • Customers are happy for the rest of the day!
We did 6 of these sales throughout the term, and made almost $1900! I’m not kidding when I say everyone is happy – we added extra sales due to popular demand!
1st place: Bake sales. The classic club fundraiser is classic for a reason. We run our bake sales for a week at a time, and club members take turns bringing baking as well as covering selling shifts at our bake sale table. Over the term we held 4 bake sales and made over $2200. Hard to believe! It doesn’t hurt that there’s some impressive culinary skill in our club.
Number crunching
Between January and March we accomplished:
  • 4 bake sales
  • 6 taco-in-a-bag sales
  • 1 Sobey’s gift card campaign
  • 1 “Birthday Cake Booty Shake” – a cabaret-style mock birthday party!
  • 2 bottle drives
  • 1 Baba’s Perogies campaign – selling perogies, cabbage rolls, and borscht
  • 1 “Drink a Small Town Dry” event – a pub crawl night
  • 1 Perogy sale – like a bake sale, but perogies!
After all of these initiatives plus an $800 travel award from our university, our group raised a total of just over $9200. This means that each of us 20 hard workers received a cheque for $460. For a university student, this makes the difference between attending the conference and missing it.  

The aftermath
After having attended the conference this June in Victoria, I speak on behalf of all U of S Nutrition students when I say that it was the highlight of the summer. We all learned so much, met amazing dietitians, and connected with fellow students and future colleagues from all over the country.
Not only did we have brand new experiences, but we also got to know each other so much better. I first got involved with fundraising in my first year of nutrition, and I quickly saw its value as an opportunity to get to know the upper-year students and my classmates. Second year held these same opportunities, with an added one: new first years!
At the U of S we have an amazing nutrition program, and we know there’s a lot more to learning than just what is taught in classes. The invaluable knowledge, contacts, and experience we gain through attending the DC National Conference (and through fundraising itself) motivates us to keep planning, selling, and baking.
It’s hard to believe, but fundraising for Ottawa 2014 has now begun. It’s January and we already have our Sobey’s fundraiser, one bake sale and a new tea-selling fundraiser under our belts. Plus, the third annual Birthday Cake Booty Shake is happening this Friday! So far the efforts of our club have been impressive and it’s been fun meeting and spending time with new members. I have no doubt that once again our club is going to bond, work hard, and succeed in funding our way to the national conference. If anyone is up to the task, it’s a future dietitian!

I hope to see you all there!

Editor’s note: Every time I read this submission I am blown away by the initiative and resourcefulness of these future dietitians.  I imagine this should inspire of few other schools to follow in the U of S students’ footsteps.  Please leave a comment and let us know if you are as impressed as I am!


  1. I think this is great and us dietetic students should share more resources as we are doing them as well as a re-cap so that we can help and inspire each other along the way. I'm at UWO/Brescia and I'd really like to see us give more students the opportunity to attend conferences so that finances do not get in the way. Amazing fundraising efforts and ideas. I hope to see you in Ottawa!
  2. Congratulations!! So wonderful to see! You should share this story with the other universities - perhaps through the DC Student Network as well. Keep up the great work and I look forward to meeting many of you in Ottawa!

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