Brighter Bites: Helping Families Believe in Fresh Food

Published: October 28, 2015

This month, we're highlighting Brighter Bites. Does it get any better than an organization that directly delivers fresh fruits and vegetables into children’s hands? Yes, yes it does. Brighter Bites also teaches how to cook, use and enjoy the fresh produce they deliver.

Brighter Bites is a nonprofit organization that brings healthy choices into the homes, minds, and mealtimes of families who live in the underserved communities of Houston, Dallas, and Austin. For three eight-week cycles, Brighter Bites provides 30-35 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables to each participating family, as well as nutrition education handbooks for parents, in-class nutrition lessons for kids, and a fun food experience for everyone to try together when they pick up their produce.

Brighter Bites was founded in Houston in 2012 by Lisa Helfman and Dr. Shreela Sharma (a UT Dell Center epidemiologist) with a vision to provide fresh fruits and vegetables directly to families living in food deserts, and teach them how to use and choose a better kind of fast food. Co-founder Helfman had watched her son’s own food preferences change in only a matter of months after providing him with healthier choices, and she decided to do the same for other families who lived in areas without access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food. In three years, the program has delivered more than three million pounds of fresh produce to over 10,000 families. Brighter Bites is a collaborative partnership between Houston Food Bank, North Texas Food Bank, Capital Area Food Bank, and University of Texas School of Public Health.

With the Brighter Bites program, students can expect to bring home fifty (FIFTY!) servings of fresh produce from school each week, along with recipes, and in-class lessons. The whole idea is to provide fresh produce and educate entire families on how to create healthier habits at home.

In fact, Brighter Bites just launched its first eight-week fall program in Austin at 10 GAVA sites earlier this month. Each week Brighter Bites Austin will fill approximately 1,700 bags of seasonal, fresh fruits and vegetables for families at nine elementary schools and at the Sierra Vista/Sierra Ridge after school programs. That's more than 50,000 pounds of produce distributed to families living in or near the 78744 and 78745 zip codes every week for eight weeks this fall! Brighter Bites will return to these schools in the spring with springtime produce, new recipes, and more fun food samples.

This is just some of the amazing work that has been done in the program so far. For more information, check out the Brighter Bites website. We’re honored and excited to spotlight such a vibrant, influential program this month!