Brighter Bites Announces Partnership with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas to Increase Access to Fresh Produce and Food Literacy; Julie Macpherson and Sheena Payne Discuss
HOUSTON, TX - Brighter Bites is bolstering its presence in the Lone Star State, as it has formed a new alliance with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX) to expand access to fresh produce in the region. The organization recently received a grant of $40,000 from BCBSTX to support the expansion of the nonprofit’s Texas programming.
“This generous grant from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas allowed us to increase the total number of Texas students and families we serve, bringing our new Texas total to over 25,000 families,” said Julie Macpherson, Texas Regional Director of Brighter Bites. “And with Brighter Bites families still dealing with the effects of COVID-19, these steady sources of fresh food, as well as the accompanying nutrition education materials, were welcomed."
The grant will help Brighter Bites reach its overall goal to operate within 90 schools in the state, according to a press release, and allows for the safe distribution of nearly 100,000 pre-packed boxes containing more than 1.8 million pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables, in addition to thousands of nutrition education materials since the beginning of the grant, according to a press release. These boxes, which featured 112 different produce varieties, as well as year-end survey instruments for families around issues of food insecurity, nutrition, and healthy habits, and teacher questionnaires were also launched with the help of the funding from BCBSTX.
Through the partnership, Brighter Bites Texas has also provided thousands of free nutrition education materials, recipes, and tip sheets to help families prepare healthy meals at home. The organization also works with teachers to implement its health curriculum in the classroom to help students adopt healthy, long-term eating habits.
The grant also had a significant impact in the second half of the school year, as it supported Brighter Bites programming in four additional Dallas schools, leading to the enrollment of 908 new children and their families and the distribution of 3,920 boxes of produce totaling 84,635 pounds.
“We’ve seen food insecurity in our communities amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Sheena Payne, Director of BCBSTX’s Community Investments. “As the state's largest health plan, we must be part of the solution when it comes to transforming people's lives, whether that is providing them with access to cost-effective, high-quality healthcare or helping to reduce barriers in accessing nutritious food. That’s why we teamed up with Feeding America to continue our support of local food banks like Brighter Bites. We want to help ensure everyone has access to healthy, nutritious food.”
As it continues to improve access to healthy fresh produce and nutrition education, this isn’t the last expansion on Brighter Bites’ horizon. Keep reading AndNowUKnow as we bring you the latest news in the industry.