Brighter Bites Gears Up for Memorial Day Fundraiser
HOUSTON, TX - With food insecurity numbers as high as two in five children 12 years and under, solutions are needed now more than ever. In the produce industry, Brighter Bites has stepped up to unleash a series of solutions across the United States to help communities overcome food insecurity by maintaining access to fresh produce.
Rich Dachman, Chief Executive Officer of Brighter Bites, sat down to talk to me about all of the initiatives the organization has rolled out in the last couple of weeks to mitigate the challenges arising because of COVID-19. The first initiative he highlighted was the Brighter Bites fundraising auction happening over Memorial Day weekend.
“The goal of our silent auction is to raise $150,000 to help support programs like our retail voucher program. PMA is a co-sponsor of the event and has been a great supporter by promoting it to their membership. We’ve already raised more than $37,000 dollars, and we’re hoping to raise even more at this fun industry gathering,” Rich shared with me. “We’re going to be auctioning off world-class wines and wine experiences. I don’t want to give too much away, but there are a few elite selections up for grabs, with all proceeds going to a great cause.”
Rich even name-dropped a few industry icons who will be out in full force at the virtual auction, including Kent Shoemaker, David Gill, Lisa McNeece, Bruce Taylor, and John Anderson to name a few. To register for the auction, and join the running for some truly high-class wines, click here and then download the app to see the inventory and get ready to start bidding.
Like Rich mentioned, some of the programs the industry can support through this fun event include Brighter Bites’ retail voucher program, in which the organization has teamed up with the likes of H-E-B and Winn-Dixie to help Brighter Bites families continue to receive fresh produce despite the pause of its usual school programs. Now, 10,000+ families in Texas and Florida can receive $25 vouchers for fresh produce in addition to health-forward online information.
“With schools closed because of the coronavirus crisis, we’ve had to devise new ways to distribute produce directly to families, and we thought it would be best to partner with retailers directly. The retail voucher program is a great solution because it not only helps us achieve our mission, but it also helps retailers and growers sell their fresh produce,” Rich explained. “We really believe it is more important than ever to eat well, which is why the retail voucher program is so critical.”
The retail voucher program also answers requests made via a COVID-19 survey Brighter Bites conducted with its families. Many who responded to the survey are struggling to make ends meet, pay rent, work or find a job, and feed their families.
One survey taker wrote, “I really appreciate the assistance you have provided for our family and others. I would much rather always cook at home than eat out, and the produce that you provided was very helpful because I did not have to go in the store and avoided being around others during this time. It also seems like prices have gone up, and you are providing it for free is so helpful.”
Rich noted, “Now that we’ve discovered the retail voucher program, I think it will be a permanent component of what we do. There will always be a place for it since people will always need access to fresh produce. We are hoping that we can get back to our usual model of distribution, but now that we have this new tool, I think we can intertwine it with our former strategy to offer a stronger program. We’ve had some extraordinary feedback, which is so gratifying to hear.”
In addition to the retail voucher program, Brighter Bites also recently partnered with food banks in certain cities to implement alternative distribution of fresh produce to families. In Houston, this effort is accounting for 90,000 pounds of fresh produce distributed daily, with markets like Dallas, Austin, and Washington, DC following suit.
“The most exciting distribution is New York. We were trying to expand our retail voucher program to Queens, but realized there were not enough grocery chains in the market. Brighter Bites Regional Program Director Melanie Button, however, came up with a way to get 40,000 pounds of fresh produce delivered to Queens where Brighter Bites partnered with a local organization called Queens Together to execute the program,” Rich said. “In addition to local families, our distribution in Queens is helping provide jobs for foodservice employees who are out of work. They are being hired to assemble and deliver fresh food bags for 1,300 families and 700 members of the foodservice community who need food as well.”
In order to stay healthy during this global pandemic, it’s integral to consume fresh produce and other healthy food. Luckily, the produce industry and Stateside consumers have Brighter Bites on our side to expand the reach of fresh produce. From all of us at AndNowUKnow, thank you, Brighter Bites!