NEWARK, Del. — Empowering healthy families and boosting produce consumption are behind the Produce Marketing Association's (PMA) partnership with Brighter Bites, a nonprofit that delivers fresh produce, nutrition education, and a fun food experience to families in underserved communities.
"At PMA, our vision is to grow a healthier world," said PMA CEO Cathy Burns. "Being able to grow healthier families through this community-based program helps PMA and our members bring that vision to life."
Brighter Bites was inspired and created by a mom who changed her children's eating habits. She envisioned creating the same change in underserved communities by channeling surplus produce to families, meeting them where their kids are – at school and summer programs.
Since its inception (2012), Brighter Bites has delivered more than 15 million pounds of fresh produce to over 30,000 families. The program seeks to change behavior among children and their families – go to increase produce consumption to achieve long-term health. The program is simple: produce distribution, nutrition education and a fun food experience.
"At Brighter Bites, we get produce into families' homes by using the schools as delivery vehicles, and changing the school and the home environments simultaneously," said Lisa Helfman, founder and board chair. "We started in one Texas city, expanded to three, and have launched in Washington, D.C., and New York City, and we're moving into southwest Florida next.
"Brighter Bites has grown because it works, but also because we have incredible partners. The produce industry has bent over backwards to ensure we have enough product for 50 servings of produce per family each week," she said. "We are thrilled that the produce industry has decided to help us create long-term change in the underserved communities."
Burns said: "I'm humbled, but not surprised, by the response from the produce community as they provide produce, distribution logistics, and financial resources to Brighter Bites."
Peer-reviewed research by UTHealth School of Public Health demonstrates families ate most or all of the produce provided by Brighter Bites. And, it shows that once families completed the program, their produce consumption remains high – 74% maintain the same consumption level as when they were getting the free produce.
"Brighter Bites models delicious, healthy eating habits," Burns said. "And the residual effect of increased consumption outside the program is what we want to see – a program that builds consumers for life."
Source: Produce Marketing Association