The goal of the fruit stand is to increase access to healthy snacks for a school community, through youth driven entrepreneurship. Running a business requires practice and knowledge in a variety of areas- from accounting (math), to marketing (writing, public speaking, art, and media), to operations (packaging, distribution), to management (teamwork, leadership).
Running a business is the quintessential real-world problem solving activity. Entrepreneurship is potent and relevant strategy to engage young people, and the various components of operating a successful business naturally break down into specific roles and responsibilities, engaging through multiple disciplines.
Taste, accessibility, peer education and modeling are all powerful influences on eating behaviors addressed through the fruit stand.
Fresh fruit is naturally delicious and sweet, and people like sweet things. The fruit stand also is an opportunity to introduce new fruits (such as kiwi and pineapple) as well as new ways to eat fruit (smoothies, frozen banana ice cream, frozen grapes).
Fresh ripe fruit, sliced, bagged, and neatly presented, is difficult to find nearby most schools, although it’s easy to find chips, cookies, candy, and artificial sugar water.
The fruit stand is an easy way to address this lack of access from the ground up. Nobody knows a school better than the students, so students are well suited to sell fruit to their peers, teachers and parents. This community-based strategy relies on relationships and familiarity, in contrast the snacks at the corner store which rely on highly engineered flavor and marketing.
A fruit stand requires fruit, but it is self-sustaining after the initial expenditure (revenues from sales reimburses the cost of purchasing fruit).
Tools required include plastic ziplock baggies to hold the fruit, cutting boards, knives (lettuce knives work for younger kids, and apple slicer is also helpful), metal bowls for holding chopped fruit, and a plastic bin to hold all the supplies. A cleaning kit with soap, bleach, a sponge, a small plastic tub to hold water, and a dish towel is also helpful for unequipped classrooms.
For accounting and marketing, blank paper, color paper, pencils, markers and tape are all necessities.
Group Size (young people)
2-12 young people
Group Size (older folks)
At least 1 adult, no more than 1-1 adult:child ratio. The more mentors the better, but we don’t want to overwhelm the children. In the end, the fruit stand is run by the kids.
The fruit stand project evolves organically around the real-world problems that occur when starting and running a small business. While a focus on the nutritional qualities of fruit underlies all the lessons, it is never taught explicitly. Instead the facts are introduced in marketing lessons when discussing ways in which the fruit stand team can attract customers.
At the beginning of the fruit stand session, goals are established and roles are set so each participant understands how (s)he contributes to the accomplishments of the overall team goals. Roles differ between the fruit stand set up and running the fruit stand itself. During set up, students wash, chop, and bag fruit, make smoothies, take inventory, set prices, create signs and plan PA announcements. For the fruit stand sales, roles will switch and include cashier, smoothie pourer, inventory manager, marketing rep (makes sure everyone in the school knows fruit stand is open), and security guard.
It’s important to run a few introductory lessons before fruit stand opens for sale in a school. These establish the overall fruit stand goals, discuss the components of running a successful business, detail the potential roles and responsibilities of fruit stand participants, and provides a space to learn key skills such as knife safety, smoothie making, business math, and customer service. Once these topics are covered, the fruit stand can open for business.
As students are actively engaged in entrepreneurship, learning around the following topics can be integrated into the process- accounting, marketing, operations, and management.