Walmart has committed $4 million to help fight food insecurity in Texas, and nearly $1.3 million will go to fresh produce-focused nonprofit Brighter Bites.
Brighter Bites distributes produce and provides nutrition and preparation information to families in Houston, Dallas, Austin, New York City, the Washington, D.C., metro area and southwest Florida. The program will enroll more than 100,000 people from roughly 30,000 families for the 2019-20 school year.
Since the 2017-18 school year, the number of school sites with Brighter Bites programming has grown 23%, and the number of families served has more than doubled.
“The Walmart Foundation’s support of Brighter Bites allows us to build larger communities of fresh food in the cities where we operate, pursuing our mission without missing a beat,” Brighter Bites CEO Rich Dachman said in the release.
Since it launched in 2012, Brighter Bites has distributed more than 23 million pounds of produce through schools, after-school programs and summer camps. Research shows that produce consumption of participating families increases during the Brighter Bites program and remains at that higher level after the program ends, according to the release.
Participants in Brighter Bites reported higher consumption of vegetables and fruits as snacks, lower consumption of added sugar by children, and more meals eaten together as a family.
Those taking part in the program also report a two-fold increase in cooking meals from scratch and a two-fold increase in using nutrition labels to inform purchases at the store.
“Food insecurity is an issue that far too many families face every day, and we know the best way to make a difference is by using our strengths and engaging local organizations with deep roots in communities we serve,” Julie Gehrki, vice president of philanthropy at Walmart, said in the release. “Brighter Bites has a proven track record of making a strong, measurable impact and it’s our hope that through this work we can ensure that families have access to healthy, nutritious food.”