Inaugural Spring Luncheon Invites Monterey County Community to a Conversation on Food Security
MONTEREY – Brighter Bites, a nonprofit organization that delivers fresh fruits, vegetables, and nutrition education resources directly into families’ hands, held its inaugural Monterey County Spring Luncheon on May 11th for a larger conversation on creating communities of health through fresh food.
This event highlighted the importance and need of local and national collaboration to help Brighter Bites reach success in changing behavior among children and families through their model of fresh produce + nutrition education + a fun food experience. 190 guests and community leaders attended the event, including Vic Smith of JV Smith and Companies, Bruce Taylor of Taylor Farms, Tiffany DiTullio of Blue Zones Project, and Soren Bjorn of Driscoll’s. The following local and industry partners sponsored the event and attended to join this conversation on food insecurity: Taylor Farms, Braga Fresh, The C Group, Church Brothers, Driscoll’s, D’Arrigo New York, JV Smith and Company, Drew Massa, Joshua and Inette Brown Family Foundation, Montage Health, Pacific International Marketing, Salinas Valley Health, Raymond Beshoff/Monterey Bay FC, Sysco, River Fresh Farms, The Wonderful Company, Windset Farms, and Blue Zones Project.
“Thank you to the companies, organizations and individuals who are with us today, to ensure we receive the funding needed for long-term sustainability and growth,” said Rich Dachman, CEO of Brighter Bites. “To those that donate produce weekly for our distribution – all of you are working together to create communities of health.”
“Blue Zones Project and Taylor Farms are focused on aligning and elevating the great work taking place in Monterey County because we and Brighter Bites are not THE solution – we are three of the many incredibly invested, passionate, committed organizations serving Monterey County,” said Tiffany DiTullio, Executive Director of Blue Zones Project.
The Monterey County Health Needs Assessment found that in 2022, 40.8% of Monterey community residents are determined to be “food insecure,” having run out of food in the year prior. The program has been providing nutrition education and fresh produce to underserved families in Monterey County since February 2021 and is now serving over 3,425 families across 15 schools and head starts.
“Year over year, Monterey County programming has doubled in size and participation, with 10 schools on the Brighter Bites waiting list as of today,” said Alicia Blanco, senior program director for Brighter Bites Salinas. “We are proud of the fact that Brighter Bites Monterey County has the highest enrollment rate nationally at 94%. This means that out of all the schools and head starts enrolled in the Brighter Bites program, almost all of the children participate in Monterey County.”
“Over 400 families line up to receive their Brighter Bites boxes at our school,” said Veronica Hernandez, principal for Arroyo Seco Academy. “The families in our community sometimes have to make difficult decisions regarding what food they place on their table. Brighter Bites helps families to stretch their food dollars and allocate resources to other basic needs.”
Since its founding in 2012, Brighter Bites has distributed over 50 million pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables and nutrition education to more than 500,000 individuals across all communities it serves, including: Houston, Dallas, Austin, New York City, Washington D.C., Southwest Florida, Salinas, Los Angeles, Bakersfield, and San Antonio.
About Brighter Bites:
Brighter Bites is a nonprofit that creates communities of health through fresh food with the goal of changing behavior among children and their families to prevent obesity and achieve long-term health. Brighter Bites is an evidence-based, multi-component elementary school, preschool, and summer camp program that utilizes reliable access to fruits and vegetables, nutrition education, and consistent exposure to recipes and messages that feature fresh food. Since 2012, Brighter Bites has provided over 50 million pounds of produce and millions of nutrition education materials to more than 500,000 individuals (including teachers) in Houston, Dallas, Austin, New York City, the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan area, Southwest Florida, Salinas, Los Angeles, Bakersfield, and San Antonio. To learn more about Brighter Bites visit www.brighterbites.org.