DOES BRIGHTER BITES WORK?

While food co-ops are becoming popular, there is little published literature to show their benefit and impact.
This is where Brighter Bites takes the fruitcake.

Researchers at the UTHealth School of Public Health conducted a two-year study evaluating the impact of Brighter Bites on 760 students and their families at nine schools in Houston during the 2013-15 school years. Results from this study have been published in a scientific peer-reviewed journal called Preventive Medicine.

Suffice it to say, science finally proves what we’ve suspected all along:

Brighter Bites works—and works well.


Study results show that, as compared to participants in the control group (not receiving Brighter Bites), children and parents who did receive Brighter Bites demonstrated:

HEALTHIER HABITS

Significant increase in amount of fruits and vegetables consumed.

LESS ADDED SUGAR

Significant decrease in amount of added sugars consumed among children.

MORE HOME COOKING

Twofold increase in cooking meals from scratch

HEALTHIER SNACKING

Significant increase in serving more fruits and vegetables as snacks.

MORE FAMILY MEALS

Significant increase in eating produce-heavy meals together at home

SMARTER DECISIONS

Twofold increase in using nutrition labels to guide grocery purchases

“Brighter Bites is a theory-driven, evidence-based health promotion program that mitigates fruit and vegetable waste and converts it into a public health opportunity by systematically sourcing and channeling primarily donated produce into underserved communities.”

“The overarching goal of Brighter Bites is to increase the demand for, and intake of, fruits and vegetables among low-income children and their families. To ensure this happens, our model provides comprehensive nutrition education for students and their parents and creates exciting opportunities for children to practice healthy eating behaviors in school and at home. Ongoing evaluation allows us to critically assess program efficacy, while pushing the scientific dialogue forward to understand how to healthfully feed our families.”

DR. SHREELA SHARMA, CO-FOUNDER

Read Her Bio

SUSTAINED CONSUMPTION

94% of participating parents reported their family ate all or most of the fruits provided, and 87% ate all or most of the vegetables.

HIGH PROGRAM FIDELITY

Participating families reported attending 7 of 8 available distributions on average in each of the fall and spring semesters.

LOW COST OF PRODUCE

On average each week, Brighter Bites families received 57 servings of fruits and vegetables, which cost the program $2.65 per family per week.

BRIGHTER BITES INTERVENTION LOGIC MODEL, HOUSTON, TEXAS 2013-2015

THE FRAMEWORK BEHIND THE FRUIT

How we built our three-part formula, developed our messaging and materials, and continue to evaluate program success.

explore our LOGIC MODEL

FEATURED PROJECT

IMPACT OF SOCIAL DETERMINANTS OF HEALTH ON BRIGHTER BITES PARTICIPANTS

We are currently studying how the social determinants of health, specifically food insecurity, impacts our Brighter Bites families’ behaviors such as grocery shopping, dietary intake, and program attendance.

CONTINUED RESEARCH

Translating research into practice, and practice into research.

Publications

Marshall, A., Bounds, G., Patlovich, K., Markham, C., Farhat, A., Cramer, N., Oceguera, A., Croom, T., Carrillo, J., & Sharma, S., Study Design and Protocol to Assess Fruit and Vegetable Waste at School Lunches. Behavioral Sciences. 2019, Volume 9, Issue 9, pp 101-116.

Sharma, S.V., Markham, C., Ranjit, N., Marshall, A., Bounds, G., Chow, J., & Hearne, K., Impact of a school-based nutrition intervention on fruit and vegetable waste at school lunches – Results from the Brighter Bites pilot plate waste study. Journal of Nutrition, Education, and Behavior. 2019, Volume 000, pp 1-9 .

Sharma, S.V., Upadhyaya, M., Bounds, G., & Markham, C., A public health opportunity found in food waste. Preventing Chronic Disease. November 2017, Volume 14:160596.

Alcazar, L., Raber, M., Lopez, K.,  Markham, C., & Sharma, S.V., Examining the impact of a school-based fruit and vegetable co-op in the Hispanic community through documentary photography. Appetite. 2017, Volume 116, pp 115-122.

Sharma, S. V., Chow, J., Pomeroy, M., Raber, Salako, D. O., & Markham, C. Lessons learned from the implementation of Brighter Bites: a food co-op to increase access to fruits and vegetables and nutrition education among low-income children and their families. Journal of School Health. April 2017, Volume 87, Number 4, pp 284-296.

Raber, M., Sharma, S. V., Pomeroy, M., Mody, A., Markham, C., & Lopez, K. K. Brighter Sights: Using Photovoice for a Process Evaluation of a Food Co-op Style Nutrition Intervention. Journal of Health Disparities Research. Fall 2016, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 20-34.

Sharma, S. V., Markham, C., Chow, J., Ranjit, N., Pomeroy, M., & Raber, M. Evaluating a school-based fruit and vegetable co-op in low-income children: a quasi-experimental study. Preventive Medicine. 2016, Volume 91, pp 8–17.

Sharma, S. V., Markham, C., Helfman, L., Albus, K., Pomeroy, & M, Chuang, R.J. Feasibility and acceptability of Brighter Bites: A food co-op in schools to increase access, continuity and education of fruits and vegetables among low-income populations. Journal of Primary Prevention. 2015, Volume 36, Issue 4, pp 281-286.

PRESENTATIONS

Sharma, S.V., Scott, L. (February 2020). Brighter Bites: Improving Community Health by Creating a New Generation of Produce Consumers. Oral presentation at the Association of SNAP Nutrition Education Administrators (ASNNA) Winter Conference in Arlington, VA.

Sharma, S.V. (February 2020). The Impact of Diet on Gut Health and Overall Wellness. Invited Speaker at UTHealth Spring Luncheon in Houston, TX.

Cousins, S., Sharma, S.V. (November 2017). Brighter Bites: Marketing as a catalyst for change. Oral presentation at the American Public Health Association 2017 Annual Meeting in Atlanta, GA.

Alcazar, L., Sharma, S.V. (November 2016). Brighter Bites Photovoice: Perspectives from Hispanic participating parents towards the Brighter Bites program. Oral presentation at the American Public Health Association 2016 Annual Meeting in Denver, CO.

Sharma, S., Markham, C., Chow, J., Ranjit, N., Pomeroy, M., & Raber, M. (November 2016). A comparative effectiveness study of Brighter Bites: A food co-op intervention to improve access to fresh F&V and nutrition education among low-income children and families. Oral presentation at the American Public Health Association 2016 Annual Meeting in Denver, CO.

Pomeroy, M. (November 2016). Brighter Bites: Implementing a Food Co-op Concept in Underserved Schools. Oral Presentation at the Southern Obesity Summit in Houston, TX.

Past, Present and Future of SNAP: Evaluating Effectiveness and Outcomes in SNAP-Ed: Hearings before the Committee on Agriculture, House of Representatives, 114th Cong. (June 2016) (Testimony of Shreela Sharma, PhD, RD, LD).

Sharma, S., Markham, C., Chow, J., Pomeroy, M., & Raber M. (October 2015). Efficacy of Brighter Bites: a School-Based Food Co-op Intervention. Poster presentation at The Obesity Society Annual Meeting, Los Angeles, CA.

Sharma, S., Markham, C. Helfman, L., Albus, K., Chuang, R.J., & Pomeroy, M. (May 2014). Feasibility and acceptability of Brighterbites, a program increasing access to fresh fruits and vegetables and nutrition education among low-income children and their families. Poster presented at the International Society for Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity Annual Meeting in San Diego, CA.

Albus, K., Sharma, S., Markham, C., Helfman, L., & Pomeroy, M. (May 2014). Process evaluation of Brighter Bites pilot study: A community-academic partnership promoting fruit and vegetable intake among low-income, minority populations. Oral presentation at the International Society for Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity Annual Meeting in San Diego, CA.

ONGOING RESEARCH PROJECTS

Brighter Bites dissemination and scalability study across all Brighter Bites cities.

Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) with pregnant women, mothers, and infants. Collaborators: part of THRIVE coordinated efforts spearheaded by UT Physicians.

The impact of food insecurity on food shopping behaviors and dietary intake behaviors among Brighter Bites participants.

The impact of food insecurity on Brighter Bites families’ program attendance and participation.

WANT TO GET INVOLVED?

OUR SCIENCE ALLIANCE

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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