As part of its commitment to create healthier communities free of hunger during the COVID-19 crisis, the poverty-fighting organization Robin Hood allocated a $30,000 grant to Brighter Bites, supporting home delivery of free, fresh produce to families living in several Queens neighborhoods impacted by the pandemic.
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.
The Robin Hood Foundation initiative allows Brighter Bites to continue to serve 2,000 families in Queens that were already receiving fresh fruits and vegetables before COVID-19 began to spread throughout the borough.
“Brighter Bites NYC was incredibly proud to be the recipient of a generous Robin Hood Relief Fund grant allowing us to safely distribute nutritious fresh food to families suffering during this time,” said Melanie Button, regional program director, Brighter Bites. “As an organization, we were adamant that school closures would not stop us from continuing to provide produce to our families, but we knew that we would need to shift our model. This Robin Hood grant ensured that we were able to do that … setting off a spectacular, community-based operation.”
The Robin Hood funded program included a partnership with Connected Chef, a culinary education company that designed the delivery model and re-employed chefs and cooks, who have lost viable sources of food due to shortened hours and job losses to pack and deliver the produce.
This collaboration ensured that families living in the hardest hit ZIP codes received fresh immune-boosting produce, valuable nutrition information, and cooking tips delivered to their door to reduce risk of exposure.
Brighter Bites and its partners distributed a total of 296,965 pounds of mixed produce during May and June, allowing for 2,000 care packages to be distributed per week. Distributions took place in the Jackson Heights, Corona, Woodside, Astoria and East Elmhurst neighborhoods.
Prior to the pandemic, the organization served over 25,000 families nationwide enrolled in the program across 100 schools, with each family receiving 25 pounds of fresh produce and nutrition education on a weekly basis. When COVID-19 struck, schools were shuttered and families lost access to fresh produce they were dependent on for daily nourishment.
“At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York City, one in three parents were reducing or skipping meals to feed their children and 2 million of our neighbors were at risk of going hungry,” said Emary Aronson, chief knowledge officer and senior advisor to the CEO at Robin Hood. “We are proud to support Brighter Bites’ initiative to quickly get food into the hands of families in the hardest hit neighborhoods in Queens.”