Brighter Bites, a nonprofit organization that delivers fresh fruits, vegetables and nutrition education resources directly into families’ hands, held its inaugural Monterey County Spring Luncheon on May 11th for a larger conversation on creating communities of health through fresh food.
This event highlighted the importance and need for local and national collaboration to help Brighter Bites reach success in changing behavior among children and families through its model of fresh produce + nutrition education + a fun food experience. In all, 190 guests and community leaders attended the event, including Vic Smith of JV Smith and Companies, Bruce Taylor of Taylor Farms, Tiffany DiTullio of Blue Zones Project and Soren Bjorn of Driscoll’s. The following local and industry partners sponsored the event and attended: Taylor Farms, Braga Fresh, The C Group, Church Brothers, Driscoll’s, D’Arrigo New York, JV Smith and Company, Drew Massa, Joshua and Inette Brown Family Foundation, Montage Health, Pacific International Marketing, Salinas Valley Health, Raymond Beshoff/Monterey Bay FC, Sysco, River Fresh Farms, The Wonderful Company, Windset Farms and Blue Zones Project.
Rich Dachman, Brighter Bites
“Thank you to the companies, organizations and individuals with us today to ensure we receive the funding needed for long-term sustainability and growth,” said Rich Dachman, CEO of Brighter Bites. “To those that donate produce weekly for our distribution - all of you are working to create communities of health.”
“Blue Zones Project and Taylor Farms are focused on aligning and elevating the great work taking place in Monterey County because we and Brighter Bites are not THE solution – we are three of the many incredibly invested, passionate, committed organizations serving Monterey County,” said Tiffany DiTullio, executive director, Blue Zones Project.
The program has been providing nutrition education and fresh produce to underserved families in Monterey County since February 2021 and now serves over 3,425 families across 15 schools and head starts.
Left to right: Vic Smith, Rich Dachman
“Year over year, Monterey County programming has doubled in size and participation, with 10 schools on the Brighter Bites waiting list as of today,” said Alicia Blanco, senior program director for Brighter Bites Salinas. “We are proud that Brighter Bites Monterey County has the highest enrolment rate nationally at 94 percent. This means almost all of the children participate in Monterey County.”
“Over 400 families line up to receive their boxes at our school,” said Veronica Hernandez, principal for Arroyo Seco Academy. “The families in our community sometimes have to make difficult decisions regarding what food they place on their tables. Brighter Bites helps families stretch food dollars and allocate resources to other needs.”
Since its founding in 2012, Brighter Bites has distributed over 50 million pounds of fresh produce and nutrition education to more than 500,000 individuals across all communities it serves, including Houston, Dallas, Austin, New York City, Washington D.C., Southwest Florida, Salinas, Los Angeles, Bakersfield and San Antonio.