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

We are thrilled to share that we’ve been selected as a #VoicesDMV Community Action Awards winner for our Washington, D.C. program! Thank you @communityfndn for helping us spark change and turn our ideas into action to enhance our community!
#AdvocacyToAction #CommunityAction
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🍓Strawberries are red,⁠
Blueberries are blue.⁠
Mangoes are sweet🥭,⁠
and we think you are too!⁠
♥️ -The Brighter Bites crew!⁠

#HappyValentinesDay⁠
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Brighter Bites is wishing our community a Happy Lunar New Year!
#LunarNewYear
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This #WellnessWednesday we are celebrating the avocado!⁠
Avocados are in peak season. 😋🥑⁠
What does that mean❓ When fruits and vegetables are in season it means that they are the most flavorful and affordable.⁠

✨It can be tricky to choose the right avocado, but here are a few of our tips! ⁠

🥑 Avocados are available year round like most fruits and vegetables these days, but January through March is the best time of year for the best flavor.⁠
🥑Look for avocados that are green and firm if you won’t be using them for a few days or avocados that are⁠
black and evenly yield to gentle touch for immediate use. ⁠
🥑To ripen avocados, you may leave them out at room temperature until they soften. ⁠
🥑Look for avocados without bruises, blemishes, soft spots, or very mushy flesh.⁠

Fun fact: Avocado is a fruit. 🥑😎⁠

#BrighterBites #EatinSeason #FreshProduce #Fruit #NutritionEducation #Nonprofit #HealthyTips #HealthyFact #Avocado ⁠
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It's National Pizza Day 🍕🎉, so we are sharing our Zucchini Pizza recipe and a healthy tip for you:

Did you know that you can make pizza without a flour crust? That's right! These yummy zucchini pizzas uses thin slices of zucchini as the crust! This recipe is flavorful, easy to make, full of nutrition, and budget-friendly. 🥫🧅It is sure to fit in with your health goals this year. 💪⁠
Check out the recipe below, and let us know what you think!⁠

INGREDIENTS:⁠
3 medium zucchini⁠
Pinch of salt and pepper⁠
1 small jar low sodium pizza or marinara sauce⁠
¼ cup part skim shredded mozzarella cheese⁠
your favorite vegetable toppings (onion, bell pepper, olives, or mushrooms)⁠

DIRECTIONS⁠
Turn on oven broiler, or preheat to 425°F. Wash zucchini and cut into slices about ¼ inches thick. Lightly sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper, and place on baking sheet. Spread a small amount of sauce on each zucchini slice, then top with cheese and your choice of veggies. Broil on high for 3-5 minutes, or bake until cheese is melted. Serve immediately!⁠

#BrighterBites #FreshProduce #fruits #vegetables #HealthyEating #HealthyCooking #RecipeOfTheDay #TuesdayTips #NationalPizzaDay #NutritionEducation #EatHealthy #BBHouston #BBAustin #BBDallas #BBNYC #BBWashingtonDC #BBSWFL
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Looking for delicious and nutritious appetizers for this Super Bowl weekend at home?? 🏈⁠
Here are a few of our favorite dips perfect for the occasion-
• Better Than Ranch Dip⁠
• Black Bean Dip ⁠
• Corn Guacamole⁠
• Poblano Salsa
😋🥕🥑🌮⁠

Pair these dips with sliced veggies, tortillas chips, or as a toppings on tacos. ⁠

Visit our website for the full recipes. ➡️https://brighterbites.org/recipe/⁠

What are you snacking on this Super Bowl Sunday? Comment below with the healthy recipes! You’ll be making at home!

#BrighterBites #FreshProduce #fruits #vegetables #HealthyCooking #HealthyEating #RecipeOfTheDay #SuperBowlSnacks⁠
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Think we are crazy for putting clothes on vegetables? We don’t CARROT all! 🥕😉
We love putting smiles on our families’ faces, and this guy sure did this week at Beacon Heights Elementary in DC! 🤩

@brighterbitesdc
#brighterbites #brighterbitesdc #freshproduce #fruits #vegetables
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Can you guess what is special about today's "date"⁉️⁠
It is #NationalMedjoolDateDay! 🌴 To help celebrate National Medjool Date Day we would like to share a quick tip about dates:⁠
Did you know that the white spots that occur on dates are not mold, but the date’s natural sugar moving to the surface.😋 ⁠

For more tips on dates and other delicious fruits and vegetables visit our website at www.brighterbites.org/tips-tools 🤩⁠

@ndmedjooldates ⁠
#BrighterBites #NationalMedjoolDateDay #FreshProduce #NutritionEducation #Nonprofit #HealthyFact
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Southwest Florida Friends!
Save the Date! You’re invited to join the Naples Children & Education Foundation on Saturday, January 30th at 7:00PM on WINK-TV. The one-hour televised event will highlight organizations it has funded and the systems of care it has built to support children like ours in Collier County. Please join us and help improve the life of a child—you won’t even have to get off the couch to do it.
Good news for our friends outside of Florida- The event will also be livestreamed online for all to see! Please visit https://www.ncefkids.com/ to tune in live on Saturday at 7:00PM EST.

@ncef_nwwf @brighterbites_swfl
#‎ItsAllForTheKids #NCEFNaples #NWWF21 #NCEFkids #BrighterBites #BrighterBitesSWFL #partnership #nonprofit #FreshProduce #fruits #vegetables #NutritionEducation
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Today we honor the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. 
#MLKDay #MartinLutherKingDay
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That's a wrap for our first full week of spring programming in our cities!
This week, our families at Robinson Elementary in Houston, TX received these beautiful boxes full of grapes, carrots, oranges, potatoes, limes, and bananas. What a great variety of produce! So many options to cook up in the kitchen. What would you make with this box of produce?
🍇🥔🥕🍌🍊

#BrighterBites #FreshProduce #FruitsAndVegetables #fruits #vegetables #nonprofit #nutritioneducation
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We are kicking off the new year with a classic! 🎉 In honor of National Spaghetti Day 🍝, we are sharing our Homemade Spaghetti Sauce recipe. This recipe is flavorful, easy to make, full of nutrition, and budget-friendly. 🥫🧅🧄🥕It is sure to fit in with all of your new goals this year. 💪
Check out the recipe below and let us know what you think!

INGREDIENTS
•2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
•1 large onion, finely chopped
•1 large carrot, finely chopped
•1 stalk celery, finely chopped
•4 cloves garlic, minced, or ½ tsp garlic powder
•1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
•1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes, no salt added
•½ tsp salt

DIRECTIONS
Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is beginning to brown (5-8 minutes). Stir in garlic and Italian seasoning; cook for about 30 seconds. Add canned tomatoes and cook until thickened (about 4-6 minutes). Stir in salt. Serve over whole wheat pasta or spaghetti squash!

NUTRITION FACTS FOR ONE SERVING (approx. ½ cup; makes 10 servings): 45 calories; 9 grams carbohydrate; 1 gram fat; 2 grams protein; 2 grams dietary fiber
Average cost for one recipe: $1.76

#brighterbites #freshproduce #fruits #vegetables #healthyeating #healthycooking #recipeoftheday #nationalspaghettiday
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