Brighter Bites Relaunches in New York City Schools to Deliver One Million Pounds of Free Produce to Children and Families
NEW YORK CITY, NY - Brighter Bites continues to blow us away with its incredible efforts to feed families in need. The organization returned to schools in New York City last month, committing to deliver one million pounds of fresh fruits and veggies to children and their families. The program pairs 20–25 pound boxes of produce with nutrition education and will serve thousands of families at participating schools in Woodside, Astoria, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Brownsville, Bushwick, Manhattan Valley, and Hamilton Heights, New York.
“The ground is shifting under parents’ feet every day,” said Melanie Button, Regional Program Director at 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.”
Brighter Bites partnered with the Connected Chef, D'Arrigo New York, and City Harvest for this relaunch, following 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 health concerns as a result of COVID-19. The program responds to these concerns with a targeted, school-based program that focuses on addressing the needs of families safely.
According to a press release, 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, Vice President 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.”
Distribution began on October 7 and will continue weekly throughout the school year. During the first weeks of the program, families took home 10–12 items, including tomatoes, bananas, onions, pears, apples, cauliflower, cucumber, celery, peaches, winter squash, and more. The drops 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 can utilize the Brighter Bites App to access recipes, tip sheets, and produce how-to’s.
First, the donations travel to the Long Island City headquarters of The Connected Chef where it is packed into family-friendly boxes. During a typical year, this packing would have happened via parent volunteers at each school. The Connected Chef’s experience with its LifeLine delivery program, which provides weekly deliveries of nutrient-dense foods to Western Queens residents, made it the perfect choice 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 its 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 the Brighter Bites website here. A donation of just $15 provides a month’s worth of produce for a participating family.
We at ANUK appreciate the work these industry leaders commit to, and encourage donations for the program.