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Brighter Bites continues to expand access to fresh produce

Brighter Bites is pleased to announce a grant of $40,000 from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas to support the implementation and expansion of the nonprofit’s Texas programming. The grant is a collaboration between BCBSTX and Feeding America, one of the nation's largest hunger relief organizations.

sdfThe grant helped Brighter Bites reach its overall Texas programming goal to operate within 90 schools in the state. This allows for the safe distribution of nearly 100,000 pre-packed boxes containing more than 1.8 million pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables as well as thousands of nutrition education materials since the beginning of the grant. The boxes included 112 different produce varieties, year-end survey instruments for families around issues of food insecurity, nutrition and healthy habits, and teacher questionnaires were also launched due in part to the BCBSTX funding.

In addition to the overall Texas support, this grant also made a significant impact during the second half of this past school year (2020-21), supporting Brighter Bites programming in four additional Dallas schools. These new schools allowed the Dallas program to enroll 908 new children and their families, and distribute 3,920 boxes of produce totaling 84,635 pounds, along with thousands of nutrition education materials.

“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.”

Food insecurity is a major social determinant of health. The collaboration between Brighter Bites, BCBSTX and Feeding America ensured that families not only were able to put healthy, nutrition-dense food on the table, but also establish long-term, sustainable changes in dietary behavior.

“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 of transforming people 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.”

Through the collaboration, Brighter Bites Texas has provided thousands of free recipes, tip sheets, and nutrition education materials to help families prepare healthy meals together at home. Brighter Bites also continues to work with teachers to implement its evidence-based health curriculum in the classroom that will help students adopt long-term healthy eating habits.

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