Brighter Bites Gets Support From Walmart
- by Melissa De Leon Chavez
HOUSTON, TX - They say that not all heroes wear capes. In the case of Brighter Bites, this is especially true. The nonprofit organization creates healthy communities by providing low-income families with fresh produce and nutrition education. The Walmart Foundation also removed its cape recently, pledging $4 million to support local organizations working on the ground in Texas to fight food insecurity. $1.3 million of those funds is slated to boost Brighter Bites’ efforts. This alliance will allow Brighter Bites to reach more communities within its six cities, expand programming to a seventh city, and build the internal capacity required to support this growth.
“The Walmart Foundation’s support of Brighter Bites allows us to build larger communities of fresh food in the cities where we operate, pursuing our mission without missing a beat,” said Brighter Bites CEO Rich Dachman.
Walmart began its philanthropic journey in 2010 when the Foundation publicly committed over $2 billion in grants and in-kind food donations to organizations that fight hunger. In 2015, it committed to help provide 4 billion meals to those facing food insecurity by 2020. The Brighter Bites grant will factor into those 4 billion meals, focusing on produce distribution and nutrition education programming. Through the programs, parents will learn which healthy foods their kids will stomach, as well as gain access to recipe cards and tip sheets that come with the produce each week.
“Food insecurity is an issue that far too many families face every day, and we know the best way to make a difference is by using our strengths and engaging local organizations with deep roots in communities we serve,” said Julie Gehrki, Vice President of Philanthropy at Walmart. “Brighter Bites has a proven track record of making a strong, measurable impact and it’s our hope that through this work we can ensure that families have access to healthy, nutritious food.”
Brighter Bites experiences elevated success in Houston, Dallas, Austin, New York City, the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area, and Southwest Florida. For the 2019-20 academic year, it will enroll more than 100,000 individuals from approximately 30,000 families whose children attend 100 schools, early childhood centers, and after school programs across all six cities. That’s a 23 percent increase in the number of school sites receiving programming and more than a 100 percent uptick in the number of families impacted compared to previous years.
Each week families and teachers receive two bags containing approximately 50 servings of eight to 12 different fresh produce items along with the nutritional educational materials. Since launching in 2012, Brighter Bites has distributed more than 23 million pounds of produce and hundreds of thousands of nutrition education materials to 275,000 individuals through schools, after school programs, and summer camps. The organization uses a simple formula for introducing healthy lifestyles to families: produce distribution, nutrition education, and a fun food experience that includes weekly recipes.
Brighter Bites measures the outcomes of its program to determine impact. Research shows that its model provides consistent opportunities for children and their families to practice healthier behaviors in school and at home:
- Over the 2018-19 school year, 98 percent of Brighter Bites parents reported their family ate more fruits and vegetables while participating in the Brighter Bites program.
- Of those, 96 percent said they maintained that increased level of consumption after Brighter Bites ended.
Children and parents participating in Brighter Bites reported a:
- Significant increase in serving more fruits and vegetables as snacks
- Two-fold increase in cooking meals from scratch, and a significant increase in eating meals together and serving more produce as part of those meals
- Two-fold increase in using nutrition labels to guide grocery purchases
- Significant decrease in added sugars consumed among children
Hats off to Brighter Bites and the Walmart Foundation! For more heartfelt industry news, keep reading AndNowUKnow.