FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Brighter Bites Begins School Year by Increasing Access to Fresh Produce and Food Literacy in Prince George’s County, MD
$40,000 grant from Amerigroup to support ongoing COVID-19 distributions and Brighter Bites expansion in the fall
Prince George’s County, MD (September 15, 2020) – Brighter Bites is pleased to begin its general programming in the Washington, D.C. area this month as schools open during the continuing COVID-19 outbreak and food insecurity among families continues.
Food insecurity in Prince George’s County was already a massive problem prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, with an estimated 10.3% of residents identifying as food insecure. Now, more than 30,000 residents in the county have filed for unemployment since March 14 and food access disparities across the county have skyrocketed.
To address these rising levels of food insecurity in the wake of COVID-19, Brighter Bites and Amerigroup have partnered to expand access to fresh produce and nutrition education to residents in Prince George’s County, MD. Brighter Bites will use the $40,000 grant from Amerigroup to support ongoing emergency community distributions, which are currently serving more than 9,000 families with 20-25 pounds of fresh produce per week, as well as expansion of the organization’s school-based programming in the fall.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has cast a glaring light on how those living in economically disadvantaged communities without reliable access to fresh, healthy food are bearing the heaviest burden of COVID-19 infections,” said Northeast Regional Director of Brighter Bites Melanie Button. “We are thrilled to join forces with Amerigroup to expand our reach throughout Prince George’s County and address food insecurity as a major social determinant of health. Together, we’re ensuring that families are not only able to put food on the table, but more importantly consume the right foods to keep them nourished and their immune systems strong.”
Brighter Bites is one of dozens of nonprofits in the area that have experienced a surge in demand for services during the pandemic, and the demand will continue as schools begin this week. The organization is currently distributing 9,050 boxes of fresh food per week to more than 20 schools, churches, and community centers but demand has increasedmore than 500% since the beginning of March. In addition to the fresh produce, Brighter Bites also provides families with digital and printed nutrition education resources to promote long-term, sustainable changes in dietary behavior.
“At Amerigroup, we understand the vital role that healthy food can play in promoting the overall health and well-being of the communities we support and it is especially important for local youth,” said Vince Ancona, Amerigroup Maryland Medicaid Plan President. “We know that the food access gap for low-income Maryland residents has widened during the pandemic and our goal in partnering with Brighter Bites is to ensure that residents can obtain the food and resources they need to help them during this health crisis.”
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 nearly 30 million pounds of produce and millions of nutrition education materials to more than 350,000 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.
About Amerigroup Maryland
Amerigroup Maryland has provided health care coverage since 1999. Statewide, we serve approximately 288,000 members in the Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs. Amerigroup Maryland is one of the state’s largest Managed Care Organization (MCO) and is one of the largest MCOs in Baltimore City and the counties of Baltimore, Montgomery, Prince George’s and Anne Arundel. Employees share genuine pride in making a difference in the lives of people who might need a little extra help.