DOES BRIGHTER BITES WORK?

While food co-ops are becoming popular, there is little published literature to show their benefit and impact.
This is where Brighter Bites takes the fruitcake.

Researchers at the UTHealth School of Public Health conducted a two-year study evaluating the impact of Brighter Bites on 760 students and their families at nine schools in Houston during the 2013-15 school years. Results from this study have been published in a scientific peer-reviewed journal called Preventive Medicine.

Suffice it to say, science finally proves what we’ve suspected all along:

Brighter Bites works—and works well.


Study results show that, as compared to participants in the control group (not receiving Brighter Bites), children and parents who did receive Brighter Bites demonstrated:

HEALTHIER HABITS

Significant increase in amount of fruits and vegetables consumed.

LESS ADDED SUGAR

Significant decrease in amount of added sugars consumed among children.

MORE HOME COOKING

Twofold increase in cooking meals from scratch

HEALTHIER SNACKING

Significant increase in serving more fruits and vegetables as snacks.

MORE FAMILY MEALS

Significant increase in eating produce-heavy meals together at home

SMARTER DECISIONS

Twofold increase in using nutrition labels to guide grocery purchases

“Brighter Bites is a theory-driven, evidence-based health promotion program that mitigates fruit and vegetable waste and converts it into a public health opportunity by systematically sourcing and channeling primarily donated produce into underserved communities.”

“The overarching goal of Brighter Bites is to increase the demand for, and intake of, fruits and vegetables among low-income children and their families. To ensure this happens, our model provides comprehensive nutrition education for students and their parents and creates exciting opportunities for children to practice healthy eating behaviors in school and at home. Ongoing evaluation allows us to critically assess program efficacy, while pushing the scientific dialogue forward to understand how to healthfully feed our families.”

DR. SHREELA SHARMA, CO-FOUNDER

Read Her Bio

SUSTAINED CONSUMPTION

94% of participating parents reported their family ate all or most of the fruits provided, and 87% ate all or most of the vegetables.

HIGH PROGRAM FIDELITY

Participating families reported attending 7 of 8 available distributions on average in each of the fall and spring semesters.

LOW COST OF PRODUCE

On average each week, Brighter Bites families received 57 servings of fruits and vegetables, which cost the program $2.65 per family per week.

BRIGHTER BITES INTERVENTION LOGIC MODEL, HOUSTON, TEXAS 2013-2015

THE FRAMEWORK BEHIND THE FRUIT

How we built our three-part formula, developed our messaging and materials, and continue to evaluate program success.

explore our LOGIC MODEL

FEATURED PROJECT

IMPACT OF SOCIAL DETERMINANTS OF HEALTH ON BRIGHTER BITES PARTICIPANTS

We are currently studying how the social determinants of health, specifically food insecurity, impacts our Brighter Bites families’ behaviors such as grocery shopping, dietary intake, and program attendance.

CONTINUED RESEARCH

Translating research into practice, and practice into research.

Publications

Allison N. Marshall, Christine Markham, Nalini Ranjit, Gregory Bounds, Joanne Chow, Shreela V. Sharma Long-term impact of a school-based nutrition intervention on home nutrition environment and family fruit and vegetable intake: A two-year follow-up study. Preventive Medicine Reports 20 (2020) 101247

Sharma SV, Chuang R, Rushing M, Naylor B, Ranjit N, Pomeroy M, et al. Social Determinants of Health–Related Needs During COVID-19 Among Low-Income Households With Children. Prev Chronic Dis 2020;17:200322.

Sharma SV, Haidar A, Noyola J, Tien J, Rushing M, Naylor BM, et al. (2020) Using a rapid assessment methodology to identify and address immediate needs among low-income households with children during COVID-19. PLoS ONE 15(10):e0240009

Amier Haidar BS , Amelia Khoei BS , Saira Alex BS , Christina Blick BS , Elyse Lopez BS , Sydney Wendt BS , Ramesh Ghanta BS , Maha Almohamad PhD , Stefanie Cousins MPH , Jacqueline Noyola BS , Jacqueline Tien BS , Christine Markham PhD , Shreela V. Sharma PhD, RD, LD, Community-academic partnerships to promote health literacy and address social needs among low-income families during COVID-19, Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior (2020)

Marshall, A., Bounds, G., Patlovich, K., Markham, C., Farhat, A., Cramer, N., Oceguera, A., Croom, T., Carrillo, J., & Sharma, S., Study Design and Protocol to Assess Fruit and Vegetable Waste at School Lunches. Behavioral Sciences. 2019, Volume 9, Issue 9, pp 101-116.

Sharma, S.V., Markham, C., Ranjit, N., Marshall, A., Bounds, G., Chow, J., & Hearne, K., Impact of a school-based nutrition intervention on fruit and vegetable waste at school lunches – Results from the Brighter Bites pilot plate waste study. Journal of Nutrition, Education, and Behavior. 2019, Volume 000, pp 1-9 .

Sharma, S.V., Upadhyaya, M., Bounds, G., & Markham, C., A public health opportunity found in food waste. Preventing Chronic Disease. November 2017, Volume 14:160596.

Alcazar, L., Raber, M., Lopez, K.,  Markham, C., & Sharma, S.V., Examining the impact of a school-based fruit and vegetable co-op in the Hispanic community through documentary photography. Appetite. 2017, Volume 116, pp 115-122.

Sharma, S. V., Chow, J., Pomeroy, M., Raber, Salako, D. O., & Markham, C. Lessons learned from the implementation of Brighter Bites: a food co-op to increase access to fruits and vegetables and nutrition education among low-income children and their families. Journal of School Health. April 2017, Volume 87, Number 4, pp 284-296.

Raber, M., Sharma, S. V., Pomeroy, M., Mody, A., Markham, C., & Lopez, K. K. Brighter Sights: Using Photovoice for a Process Evaluation of a Food Co-op Style Nutrition Intervention. Journal of Health Disparities Research. Fall 2016, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 20-34.

Sharma, S. V., Markham, C., Chow, J., Ranjit, N., Pomeroy, M., & Raber, M. Evaluating a school-based fruit and vegetable co-op in low-income children: a quasi-experimental study. Preventive Medicine. 2016, Volume 91, pp 8–17.

Sharma, S. V., Markham, C., Helfman, L., Albus, K., Pomeroy, & M, Chuang, R.J. Feasibility and acceptability of Brighter Bites: A food co-op in schools to increase access, continuity and education of fruits and vegetables among low-income populations. Journal of Primary Prevention. 2015, Volume 36, Issue 4, pp 281-286.

PRESENTATIONS

Sharma, S., Pomeroy, M., Noyola, J. (December 2020) Supporting Families in Crisis: A rapid assessment methodology to address needs in low-income houses during COVID-19. Webinar presentation through Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living.

Sharma, S.V., Scott, L. (February 2020). Brighter Bites: Improving Community Health by Creating a New Generation of Produce Consumers. Oral presentation at the Association of SNAP Nutrition Education Administrators (ASNNA) Winter Conference in Arlington, VA.

Sharma, S.V. (February 2020). The Impact of Diet on Gut Health and Overall Wellness. Invited Speaker at UTHealth Spring Luncheon in Houston, TX.

Cousins, S., Sharma, S.V. (November 2017). Brighter Bites: Marketing as a catalyst for change. Oral presentation at the American Public Health Association 2017 Annual Meeting in Atlanta, GA.

Alcazar, L., Sharma, S.V. (November 2016). Brighter Bites Photovoice: Perspectives from Hispanic participating parents towards the Brighter Bites program. Oral presentation at the American Public Health Association 2016 Annual Meeting in Denver, CO.

Sharma, S., Markham, C., Chow, J., Ranjit, N., Pomeroy, M., & Raber, M. (November 2016). A comparative effectiveness study of Brighter Bites: A food co-op intervention to improve access to fresh F&V and nutrition education among low-income children and families. Oral presentation at the American Public Health Association 2016 Annual Meeting in Denver, CO.

Pomeroy, M. (November 2016). Brighter Bites: Implementing a Food Co-op Concept in Underserved Schools. Oral Presentation at the Southern Obesity Summit in Houston, TX.

Past, Present and Future of SNAP: Evaluating Effectiveness and Outcomes in SNAP-Ed: Hearings before the Committee on Agriculture, House of Representatives, 114th Cong. (June 2016) (Testimony of Shreela Sharma, PhD, RD, LD).

Sharma, S., Markham, C., Chow, J., Pomeroy, M., & Raber M. (October 2015). Efficacy of Brighter Bites: a School-Based Food Co-op Intervention. Poster presentation at The Obesity Society Annual Meeting, Los Angeles, CA.

Sharma, S., Markham, C. Helfman, L., Albus, K., Chuang, R.J., & Pomeroy, M. (May 2014). Feasibility and acceptability of Brighterbites, a program increasing access to fresh fruits and vegetables and nutrition education among low-income children and their families. Poster presented at the International Society for Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity Annual Meeting in San Diego, CA.

Albus, K., Sharma, S., Markham, C., Helfman, L., & Pomeroy, M. (May 2014). Process evaluation of Brighter Bites pilot study: A community-academic partnership promoting fruit and vegetable intake among low-income, minority populations. Oral presentation at the International Society for Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity Annual Meeting in San Diego, CA.

ONGOING RESEARCH PROJECTS

Brighter Bites dissemination and scalability study across all Brighter Bites cities.

Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) with pregnant women, mothers, and infants. Collaborators: part of THRIVE coordinated efforts spearheaded by UT Physicians.

The impact of food insecurity on food shopping behaviors and dietary intake behaviors among Brighter Bites participants.

The impact of food insecurity on Brighter Bites families’ program attendance and participation.

WANT TO GET INVOLVED?

OUR SCIENCE ALLIANCE

Another successful week of programming down! 🙌 Here's a glimpse at some of our kick-off distributions in our Texas cities!

@brighterbiteshou @brighterbitesdallas @brighterbitesaustin
#BrighterBites #BrighterBitesHouston #BrighterBitesDallas #BrighterBitesAustin #FreshProduce #Fruits #Vegetables #NutritionEducation #FunFoodExperience
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This recipe might just GUAC your world! 💚🥑😎 The sweet pop of corn will have you smiling ear to ear 🌽🌽!

See the full recipe here➡️ https://brighterbites.org/recipe/corn-guacamole/
#NationalGuacamoleDay #BrighterBites #HealthyRecipe #HealthyEating #FreshProduce #Fruits #Vegetables #Guacamole
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Today we kick off the beginning of National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15, by celebrating the histories, cultures, and contributions of both Hispanic and Latino Americans.
We recognize the roles Hispanic and Latino Americans play in our communities and use this month to observe, honor, and appreciate their achievements and most of all, their rich culture!

#NationalHispanicHeritageMonth
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Join our mission and make a direct impact on thousands of families across the country!

From September 7 – October 31 every dollar donated, big or small, will go toward Brighter Bites' $50,000 goal to help overcome the lack of access children have to healthy fruits and vegetables and nutrition education, and ultimately to provide a more equitable community that fosters a healthy mind, body, and environment.

Link in bio!
#BrighterMindsBrighterBites #BrighterBites
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Back-to-School time is here, and our #TuesdayTips will help make the school year a little healthier!

Here are a few tips on how to make healthy foods more fun!
• Look for food in bright colors. 🍒🍇🥭
• Cut your fruit and veggies in fun shapes. 🥦🍉🍍
• Kids love “finger foods”! 🍓🍌🍇

#BrighterBites #FreshProduce #Fruits #Vegetables #HealthyTip #HealthySnacks
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Thumbs up for healthy foods! 👍

We love seeing kids enjoy eating fresh fruits and veggies! When kids have a hand in preparing foods, they are more likely to try new foods.
#KidsTakeOverTheKitchenDay
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Wrapping up a week of successful fall distributions! 🙌
Programming is up and running in five of our cities, and we could not be more excited! 🤩🍇🥦🍊🍅🥬

#BrighterBites #FreshProduce #Fruits #Vegetables #NutritionEducation #FunFoodExperience
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A new school year is here, and we have big plans!
Expected Impact for the 2021-22 School Year:
🏤 138 Schools
👨‍👩‍👧‍👦 33,570 Families
🍓 10,742,400 Pounds of Fresh Produce
📚38,640 CATCH Lessons
🥕77,280 Produce Activities

Join our mission of creating communities of health through fresh food! See how you can be a part at the links in our bio!

#BrighterBites #FreshProduce #NutritionEducation #Volunteer
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Wishing all who celebrate Rosh Hashanah a good and sweet New Year. Shanah Tovah! 🍯🍎

#RoshHashanah #ShanahTovah
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Would it be too cheesy to say that we think these mini pizzas are really GRATE?! 🧀🍕
It's #NationalCheesePizzaDay and we think you need to try these healthy zucchini pizzas that are just too cute!
🍕https://brighterbites.org/recipe/zucchini-pizzas/

#BrighterBites #ZucchiniPizza #HealthyRecipe #HealthyCooking #HealthyEating #FreshProduce #Vegetables #NutritionEducation
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Houston Friends!

Did you see in @Target Circle that you can vote for Brighter Bites as your community partner of choice? From now until the end of September, you can cast your vote! Make a difference in the lives of thousands of families all while shopping! Log in and vote today! www.target.com/circle/community-voting

Happy shopping! ❤️🛍🎯
#TargetCircle #NonprofitPartner
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Happy Labor Day weekend! 🎉
We've got you covered this long weekend with easy-to-make recipes that are sure to please the whole family!

Visit our website for these recipes and more!
"Cool as a Cucumber" and Melon Salad
Brighter Bites Smoothie
Smoky Greens
Black Bean Dip

#HappyLaborDay #LaborDay2021
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Do you love blueberries just as much as we do?💙
We love eating blueberries as a snack, in salads, on yogurt, or blended into popsicles!
Blend fresh blueberries with water or milk, pour into popsicle molds, and place in the freezer. Allow to freeze for at least 3 hours! Enjoy this sweet and healthy treat!

#NationalBlueberryPopsicleDay #BrighterBites #HealthyRecipe #HealthyEating #FreshProduce #Fruits
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Hope your Monday has been extra sweet! 🍍
We can't wait to get our first fall distributions started this week in Salinas, California!
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🍌🍨 Who's ready for an banana ice cream break?!

#NationalBananaSplitDay #BananaIceCream #BrighterBites #FreshProduce #Fruits #NutritionEducation #FunFoodExperience
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It's National Eat a Peach Day, and one of our favorite ways to eat a peach and to start the day is our Just Peachy Parfait. It's quick, easy, and delicious!

Have your kids join you in the kitchen for this simple recipe! 🍑 https://brighterbites.org/recipe/just-peachy-parfait/

#BrighterBites #NationalEatAPeachDay #HealthyRecipe #HealthyCooking #PeachParfait
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