Melanie Button, Regional Program Director
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Brighter Bites Relaunches in NYC Schools to Deliver 1 Million Pounds of Free Produce to Children and Families
Brighter Bites, the Connected Chef, D’Arrigo New York, and City Harvest join forces to impact 2,600+ families across 12 schools
New York, NY (November 2, 2020) – Brighter Bites returned to NYC schools in October with a promise to deliver 1 million pounds of free, fresh fruits and vegetables, along with nutrition education resources, to children and their families despite the ongoing pandemic. The evidence-based program feeds with impact by pairing 20-25 pounds boxes of produce with nutrition education for parents and their children. The program will serve thousands of families at participating schools in Woodside, Astoria, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Brownsville, Bushwick, Manhattan Valley, and Hamilton Heights.
Brighter Bites relaunched its program with the Connected Chef, D’Arrigo New York, and City Harvest on the heels of a new report showing how the COVID-19 pandemic has illuminated and exacerbated persistent food access problems throughout New York City. Communities that lack consistent access to healthy affordable food concurrently experience high rates of food insecurity and diet-related diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and complications from COVID-19. The Brighter Bites program responds to these concerns with a targeted, school based program that focuses on addressing the needs of families safely.
City Harvest has committed 30,000 pounds of produce per week for the program with Hunt’s Point based distributor D’Arrigo New York committing an additional weekly donation of hard to source family favorites such as bananas, pears, peaches and more. “We are thrilled to be teaming back up with Brighter Bites to service the city that we love.” said Gabriela D’Arrigo, VP of Marketing and Communications at D’Arrigo New York. “With all the uncertainty that 2020 has brought, access to healthy nutrition should not be another ‘thing’ to add to the list of concerns for families.”
Distributions began on October 7th and will continue weekly throughout the school year. During the first weeks of the program families took home 10-12 items, including tomatoes, bananas, onion, pears, apples, cauliflower, cucumber, celery, peaches, winter squash, and more. Distributions are planned to continue regardless of whether or not schools remain open for in-person learning. As part of the program, Brighter Bites supports a ‘train the trainer’ model in which teachers teach in-class (or virtual) nutrition lessons. Additionally, parents utilize the Brighter Bites App to access a vast library of recipes, tip sheets, and produce how-to’s, ensuring that they have the knowledge and skills to incorporate the produce into home cooked meals and snacks.
“The ground is shifting under parents’ feet every day,” said Melanie Button, Regional Program Director, Brighter Bites. “Families can rely on our program for ready access to fresh, immune-boosting foods throughout the year. The communities we serve have been especially hard hit by COVID-19 and the food we provide is more critical than ever.”
The produce first travels to the Long Island City headquarters of The Connected Chef where it is packed into family friendly boxes before it is received at each school. During a typical year, this packing would have happened via parent volunteers at each school. Due to COVID-19, large groups of parents cannot convene at schools to do so. The Connected Chef’s experience with their LifeLine delivery program, which provides weekly deliveries of nutrient-dense foods to Western Queens residents, made them the perfect choice to be hired by Brighter Bites to oversee the produce packing and delivery. As an added benefit, funds from the Brighter Bites program will allow The Connected Chef to build out their distribution center as a resource for Queens and Brooklyn mutual aid groups.
Brighter Bites is seeking contributions to sustain this work over the full 2020-2021 school year. Those interested in learning more or making a donation may visit www.brighterbites.org/fund/newyork. A donation of just $15 provides a month’s worth of produce for a participating family.
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 more than 40 million pounds of produce and millions of nutrition education materials to more than 475,000 individuals (including teachers) in Houston, Dallas, Austin, New York City, the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan area, and Southwest Florida. To learn more about Brighter Bites visit www.brighterbites.org.