Our Story

How a spurned slice of cake sparked a new kind of co-op.

 

 

Two Women,
One Very
Bright Idea

 

Lisa Helfman & Dr. Shreela Sharma
Founders of Brighter Bites

 

For several years, Lisa Helfman and her family took part in a weekly fruit and vegetable co-op, and she watched her children’s eating habits dramatically transform. So much so that her little boy turned down a piece of cake at a birthday party, craving instead the blueberries he’d grown fond of eating at home.

 

Like most moms, Lisa realized this was a fairly significant decision for a six-year-old. She wondered what kind of influence regular access to fresh produce might have on all children, especially if it were free to families.

She was inspired to replicate this type of positive change in underserved communities identified as “food deserts,” or areas where access to grocery stores stocked with fresh fruits and vegetables is sorely limited. Because nutrition education in these communities is often equally lacking, Lisa’s vision was to bring a produce co-op to schools in these neighborhoods that included an educational component.

 

 

To start, she created a collaborative partnership with Dr. Shreela Sharma, an expert in nutrition and a professor of epidemiology at UTHealth School of Public Health, and they launched the program now known as Brighter Bites.

Since its inception in 2012, Brighter Bites has delivered more than 21,000,000 pounds of fresh produce and hundreds of thousands of nutrition education materials to more than 265,000 individuals (including teachers) in multiple cities across the country.

The Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) recently named Brighter Bites the winner of the 2018 PHA Impact Award. In 2016, Brighter Bites won the Texas Health Champion Award.

It's National Linguini Day and we wanted to share our Pasta Primavera recipe, which we think is imPASTAble to resist! 🍝🍝🍝

INGREDIENTS
• 2 zucchini, diced
• 1 bell pepper, diced
• 1 onion, diced
• 2 cloves of garlic, minced
• 2 Tbsp olive oil
• Salt and pepper (to taste)
• 1 jar (32 oz) pasta sauce
• 1 lb uncooked whole wheat pasta

DIRECTIONS
In a large pot boil water and cook pasta according to package instructions. When ready, drain pasta and let sit. Sauté zucchini, bell pepper, onion and garlic in olive oil in a large pan over medium heat until vegetables are tender. Add the sauce and heat then serve over the cooked pasta. 🍝😋

#brighterbites #BrighterBitesBrighterHomes #nationallinguiniday #pasta #recipeoftheday #freshproduce #vegetables
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This might sound corny, but it has felt a-maize-ing 🌽 to be back in our communities and see all of our Brighter Bites families this week! 💛

That’s a wrap on our first week of fall programming in Houston, Dallas, Austin, and DC! 🎉📦🧅🥕🍎🥔🍋

#brighterbites #freshproduce #fruits #veggies #vegetables #nutritioneducation
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Want to be a part of the Brighter Bites volunteer community?
We think we'd make a great PEAR! 🍐 🍐 Join us this year in distributing our boxes full of fresh produce to our families. We have opportunities available in all of our cities! 🍉🍌🥕🌽🍊🥬

Distribution Volunteer Duties may include:
• Distributing boxes into cars in the drive thru line or directly into the hand of families in walk up lines 🚙🚗📦
• Lifting and moving produce boxes or moving pallets 🥦💪
• Tracking and checking in families ✔️📋
• Directing drive-thru or walk up lines🚦🚧
• Set up and break down of tents/tables 🎪
• Adding handouts/materials/stickers to the boxes ⭐

Hungry to help? 🍎
Sign up online ➡️www.brighterbites.org/volunteer
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Looking to squeeze in a little volunteering? 🍋 Our volunteers spots are open, and we are ready to GUAC-and-roll! 🥑 Today, we are highlighting our Produce Boxing opportunity located at the @houstonfoodbank ! It's all hands on deck to help package up all of the fruits and vegetables for our Brighter Bites families. 💚

During the boxing project, volunteers will help build produce orders for Brighter Bites schools at the Houston Food Bank. This includes sorting and boxing produce, then stacking the completed boxes of produce onto pallets. These pallets will then be delivered by the Houston Food Bank to Brighter Bites schools throughout the week.
 
Volunteer duties may include:
• Sorting a variety of fruits and vegetables into boxes 🥕🍓🍍🍊
• Lifting and stacking full produce boxes in order to build large pallets of packaged produce 📦
• Cleaning the work area by disposing of trash and recycling ♻️

Hungry to Help? 🍎 Sign up on our website ➡️ www.brighterbites.org/volunteer
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Fall programming has started today in many of our cities! We are staying safe 😷 and practicing social distancing ↔️ while distributing produce to our families 🚗 🚙 📦. And although you can’t see them, we have BIG smiles 😁 underneath our masks! It feels great to be back in our communities!! 🎉🍎🥦🥕🍍🧅🍌🧅🍋🍅
#brighterbites #BrighterBitesBrighterHomes #freshproduce #eathealthy #foodismedicine #nutritioneducation #childnutrition #fruits #veggies #vegetables
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August is #NationalPeachMonth and we are sharing some tips on how to enjoy this delicious summer fruit!

How do you like to eat peaches? On top of yogurt, tossed in a salad, or as a snack? Share your favorite recipe with us!

#BrighterBites #freshproduce #summerproduce #eatinseason #eathealthy #foodismedicine #fruit #summerfruit #JoyofFresh #HaveaPlant
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We're so proud of Jennifer Boone and Ragen Doyle for participating in ReFED's Food Recovery Accelerator this year. The learnings from the program may now be found in this new ReFED report, which is an essential resource for everyone interested in scaling innovative food recovery and hunger relief efforts. Download it here: https://bit.ly/AccelReport! ...

Looking for an easy snack to enjoy in this summer heat? Our Frozen Fruit Pops are the perfect treat! In honor of #nationalwatermelonday we are sharing this tasty recipe. All you need is a ripe watermelon, a blender or food processor, and popsicle molds (or small plastic cups and toothpicks!). It's a tasty treat that has tons of flavor and nutrition without any added sugar!
Visit our website for the full recipe.

#BrighterBites #BrighterBitesBrighterHomes #freshproduce #eathealthy #foodismedicine #fruit #JoyofFresh #HaveaPlant
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Because mac and cheese can be both delicious and nutritious! Our Crafty Mac 'n Cheese includes some hidden veggies in the creamy sauce. Can you guess what vegetables we use?
#nationalmacandcheeseday #macncheese #BrighterBites #freshproduce #eathealthy #foodismedicine #veggies #vegetables #JoyofFresh #HaveaPlant
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