Current Progress: $6,480 of $50,000
New York Fund
From October – June, Brighter Bites NYC will deliver 1 million pounds of free, fresh fruits and vegetables directly into the hands of New York City public school students. Participating families receive bi-weekly boxes of fresh fruits and vegetables, each containing ~25 pounds and 8 to 12 different types of produce. Classroom teachers use the produce in their classroom to teach children the importance of healthy eating and physical activity. Parents have access to hundreds of recipes, tip sheets, and produce guides to build confidence in using both new and familiar veggies.
Our full circle approach, which combines access and education, is proven to create long-term behavioral changes in participating families. We do this at scale and efficiently, meaning a donation of just $15 provides an entire family produce for a month.
Give $100 and feed a family for the whole school year.
Brighter Bites is grateful to City Harvest and D’Arrigo New York, who have each pledged thousands of pounds of produce a week for our participating families. This produce travels first to the Long Island City headquarters of The Connected Chef where it is packed into family friendly boxes before it is received at each school.
Pre-packing produce is one way in which Brighter Bites has pivoted during the COVID-19 pandemic. During a typical year, packing is done by parent volunteers. While the cost to package produce is $268,000 (up from $0) last year, Brighter Bites is committed to funding this work in order to safely deliver produce to the families who need it most.
Once packed, the produce travels to 12 schools, located in Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan. Brighter Bites staff greet The Connected Chef drivers and offload hundreds of boxes ready for families to pick up throughout the day. Our safe, contactless distributions utilize a custom app for families to check in and receive their produce boxes while also downloading recipes and produce tips that correspond to the contents of their weekly box.
Brighter Bites also purchases access to the CATCH curricula – a nationally acclaimed nutrition program – for each campus. Our staff train teachers to deliver these lessons virtually or in person, ensuring that students will continue to receive high quality nutrition education as a core part of their school experience.
Responding to the Need
The Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education & Policy, in collaboration with the Hunter College NYC Food Policy Center and the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute recently released NY Food 2020. These and other findings illuminate how and why the Brighter Bites model can play a key role in supporting food-insecure families during the COVID-19 pandemic:
- According to the report, food insecurity is projected to worsen most for the population at the core of the Brighter Bites program: children in low-income households who often rely on schools for the bulk of their meals. By working with schools, we are able to serve this high-need population with dignity.
- Pantries with long lines were found to be significant barriers for families in need. Many pantries don’t allow children to wait in line and parents report that, even if they do, it is strenuous on their children and they are forced to balance fear of exposure over need for food. Brighter Bites enrollment process streamlines distributions, allowing parents to quickly and safely receive their food.
- The pandemic has increased the need for emergency food while decreasing access points. In Brownsville, where 3 of our 12 schools are located, only 88% of pantries remained open during the height of the virus last summer. Brighter Bites targets schools in neighborhoods where our work has the most impact – and commits to these communities for a minimum of three years.