Press Release: Brighter Bites Expands to Southwest Florida

Media Contact:
Stefanie Cousins


Southwest Florida’s Largest Food Bank Teams Up with Nutrition Education Nonprofit to Improve Access to Healthy Food for Students and Their Families  

Harry Chapin Food Bank and Lipman Family Farms help bring more fresh fruits and vegetables to families in Collier County through a new partnership with Brighter Bites

Fort Myers (April 26, 2018)Harry Chapin Food Bank and Lipman Family Farms today announced a partnership with Brighter Bites, a nonprofit organization that helps create communities of health through fresh food, to launch school-based programs designed to increase exposure to fresh fruits and vegetables for families in underserved communities in Southwest Florida.

Nearly 40,000 individuals in Collier County, 36 percent of whom are children, lack consistent access to nutritionally adequate food, according to Feeding America. The new program aims to encourage healthy behaviors by providing low-income children and their families with fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as nutrition education materials, support of in-class health education, and healthy recipes.

“Many hungry families struggle to eat healthy food on a budget. Teaching them how to do that is an important priority for us,” Richard LeBer, president and CEO, Harry Chapin Food Bank said. “That’s why we’re very excited to bring Brighter Bites’ effective programs to Southwest Florida.”

Brighter Bites is running programs this spring and summer that will provide more than 75,000 pounds of produce and thousands of pieces of nutrition education materials to over 600 families and teachers at Lake Trafford Elementary School, Eden Park Elementary School, and the Boys and Girls Club in the Collier County School District. Brighter Bites plans to grow its presence to serve even more elementary schools and summer programs in the greater Southwest Florida region in the coming years.

As part of the initiative, Harry Chapin Food Bank and Lipman Family Farms will donate thousands of pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables, warehousing, and transportation services to support the initiative.

“Over the past couple of years, Lipman Family Farms has donated tomatoes to Brighter Bites programs in Houston, Dallas, and Austin, and we’ve been proud of our association with the program and its impact on so many lives,” said Jaime Weisinger, Director of Community Relations and Government Relations, Lipman Family Farms. “When there was an opportunity to bring the program to Southwest Florida, we jumped at the chance. Brighter Bites fits every part of our philanthropy strategy and we’re thrilled to be donating even more produce to Brighter Bites right here in our own backyard.”

Since launching in 2012, Brighter Bites has distributed more than 16 million pounds of produce and 100,000s of nutrition education materials to 40,000 families through elementary schools, preschools, and summer camps. Brighter Bites 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. Parents and community volunteers pack bags of fresh fruits and veggies for families and teachers to take home each week during three eight-week sessions. Each free two-bag set contains approximately 50 servings of eight to 12 different produce items.

“Local partnerships are critical to the success of our organization and the impact we have on the communities where we work, said Samuel Newman, Executive Director of Brighter Bites. “We could not be happier to be partnering with two of the most trusted organizations in the region.”

Brighter Bites measures the outcomes of its program to determine impact. Research shows the Brighter Bites model provides consistent opportunities for children and their families to practice healthier behaviors in school and at home:

  • 98% of Brighter Bites parents report their children eating more fruits and vegetables while participating in the Brighter Bites program.
  • Of those, 74% 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.

Southwest Florida is the sixth Brighter Bites program to launch after Houston, Dallas, Austin, New York City, and Washington, D.C.

About Brighter Bites:

Brighter Bites is a nonprofit that creates communities of health through fresh food with the goal of changing behavior among children and their families to prevent obesity and achieve long-term health. Brighter Bites is an evidence-based, multi-component elementary school, preschool, and summer camp program that utilizes reliable access to fruits and vegetables, nutrition education, and consistent exposure to recipes and messages that feature fresh food. Since 2012, Brighter Bites has provided more than 16 million pounds of produce and 100,000s of nutrition education materials to more than 40,000 families and teachers in Houston, Dallas, Austin, New York City, the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan area, and Southwest Florida. To learn more about Brighter Bites visit

About Lipman Family Farms

Lipman Family Farms is the largest field tomato grower in North America. From seed to shelf, Lipman’s total supply chain control – research & development, farming, processing, repacking, logistics to marketing – delivers the consistency and quality that has made Lipman Family Farms North America’s most dependable source of fresh tomatoes and vegetables.

About Harry Chapin Food Bank

Founded in 1983, the mission of the Harry Chapin Food Bank is to lead our community in the fight to end hunger. Serving five counties in Southwest Florida: Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry and Lee counties, the food bank rescues, inspects, transports and distributes donated food and other grocery products to more than 150 partner agencies that provide direct services to those in need. Our partner agencies include church food pantries, soup kitchens, emergency shelters, disaster relief agencies and more. The food bank provides food for about 28,000 individuals each week. During fiscal year 2016-2017, we distributed 22.3 million pounds of food, which equates to 18.6 million meals, a total value of $37.3 million.