Remember all of those school fundraisers? Peddling wares like cookies, cheese balls and sausage on all of your family and friends or selling candy in school to raise money for band trips? We recently heard about Roger Griess and the great work he’s doing to reinforce healthy habits through school fundraisers with his business, California Fresh Fundraisers. He’s peddling a different kind of sweet treat – natural and fresh citrus fruits! We took some time to ask Roger a little more about his business…
OWG: You are a 17 year veteran of the produce industry – tell us a little about your background and what led you to leave that and start California Fresh Fundraisers.
Roger: I grew up on a farm in Sacramento, CA where my family has farmed for more than 100 years. I started in the produce business in 1993 for Dole Foods as a district sales manager in their Citrus Division. I moved to Sun World International, LLC in 1997 and for more than 13 years held positions with them in sales and business development.For the last five years prior to starting California Fresh Fundraisers, I was Vice President of Global Business Development where I procured grapes, citrus and various other items from growers around the world. We procured products from Peru, Brazil, Chile, Morocco, Spain, Mexico, and the United States, sourcing over 3 million cartons yearly.
OWG: Why do you think it’s important to sell something like citrus fruit rather than the typical school fundraiser items?
Roger: It’s healthier, and selling a healthy products helps to teach our children more nutritional eating habits. We talk about how we want our kids to eat healthier, yet we give them a conflicting message when we then ask them to go out and sell cookies, candy and processed foods that are detrimental to their health. Our philosophy follows that of the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation, of which we’re a partner.
OWG: What types of organizations are utilizing your company and what has the response been so far (specifically from those doing the selling)?
Roger: Our customers are primarily schools, soccer leagues, Boys Scout Troops, and sports clubs. The response has be tremendous. Citrus is something people want and need in their daily lives. It’s a great source of vitamin C, and you can do so much with it – fresh-squeezed orange juice, smoothies, fruit salads for example. Before you know it, the carton of citrus you purchased is consumed, and you’ve helped a worthwhile organization in the process. The organization’s supporters are also thankful, as they’re thrilled to be able to purchase items they can actually use, versus “stuff” they neither want nor need.
OWG: Where are you operating right now?
Roger: We operate in California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Idaho, Utah, New Mexico, and Hawaii.
OWG: Tell us what your favorite healthy snack is – it’s okay if it’s not a citrus fruit!
Roger: My favorite healthy snack is any kind of fruit, especially citrus! Growing up on a farm, we didn’t eat a lot of candy or junk food.