Southern Specialties, a South Florida fruit and vegetable grower and shipper, has partnered with national nonprofit Brighter Bites to provide two varieties of produce each week to the organization’s Southwest Florida program.
Brighter Bites tackles childhood obesity by providing low-income families with free fresh produce and nutrition education. Each week families and teachers participating in Brighter Bites receive two bags containing approximately 50 servings of eight to 12 different fresh produce items along with the nutrition education materials.
“Southern Specialties is very proud of our association with Brighter Bites. Together, we are moving the needle towards greater fruit and vegetable consumption among children and their families,” said Charlie Eagle, vice president of business development for Southern Specialties. “It is gratifying to see the quantifiable results produced by the Brighter Bites program.”
"With consistent support from Southern Specialties each week of our programming in Southwest Florida, we are sure to be giving our families in Immokalee and other parts of Collier County access to two additional unique items of produce each and every week of the program,” said Brighter Bites Executive Director Samuel Newman. “During this season of gratitude, we are thankful for produce houses like Southern Specialties who understand that exposing Brighter Bites families to fresh food is giving them the gift of health.”
Eddie Quintero and Lana Chehabeddine, of Southern Specialties, with a donated Brighter Bites shipment.
Since launching in 2012, Brighter Bites said it has distributed more than 18 million pounds of produce and hundreds of thousands of nutrition education materials to 265,000 individuals from more than 40,000 families through schools and summer camps in Houston, Dallas, Austin, New York City, Washington, D.C., and Southwest Florida. Brighter Bites said it uses a simple formula for introducing healthy lifestyles to families: produce distribution, nutrition education, and a fun food experience that includes sampling a recipe of the week to see just how great produce can taste.
Brighter Bites measures the outcomes of its program to determine impact. According to Brighter Bites, research shows its model provides consistent opportunities for children and their families to practice healthier behaviors in school and at home:
* 98 percent of Brighter Bites parents report their children eating more fruits and vegetables while participating in the Brighter Bites program.
* Of those, 74 percent said they maintained that increased level of consumption after Brighter Bites ended.
Children and parents participating in Brighter Bites reported a:
* Significant increase in the amount of fruits and vegetables consumed;
* Significant increase in serving more fruits and vegetables as snacks;
* Two-fold increase in cooking meals from scratch, and a significant increase in eating meals together and serving more produce as part of those meals;
* Two-fold increase in using nutrition labels to guide grocery purchases;
* And a significant decrease in added sugars consumed among children.
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