Who We Are: ⠀
Brighter Bites (https://brighterbites.org/) is a non-profit 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. We provide fresh fruits and vegetables to the families we serve, teach them how to use it, and track their behavior change. We work with 6 schools in Queens, serving nearly 2,000 families. ⠀
The Connected Chef (https://theconnectedchef.com supports individuals to create an accessible, whole-systems approach to healthy eating through our cooking classes & meal planning. As a response to the coronvirus pandemic, The Connected Chef developed the Lifeline Grocery Package program - an innovative "last mile" grocery delivery service, funded by donations and run by volunteers, that provides high-density, nutritious groceries to families in Western Queens who have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19. While continuing to deliver and fund The Lifeline Grocery program independently, The Connected Chef has partnered with Brighter Bites to scale the delivery model they pioneered to thousands of Brighter Bites families a week, in what has become the largest single day direct delivery of produce care pacakges in New York.
The Heart of Our Work
Brighter Bites and The Connected Chef share a singular focus to strengthen communities through their work. As this public health crisis surrounds us all, it is more critical than ever that families are able to access the healthy foods necessary to support strong immune systems and physical and mental health.
As a team, we will receive 40,000 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables from City Harvest. We will re-employ restaurant workers to pack produce, bring on furloughed drivers to make deliveries, and deliver 2,000 packages filled to the brim with produce directly to Brighter Bites families in Queens. The project feeds two communities in crisis -- families at risk of hunger and the chefs and cooks who've lost an avenue to feed them and a job to maintain their own livelihood.
We are doing it at scale and efficiently, meaning a donation of just $5 provides an entire family produce for just a week. Give $20 and feed a family for a month.⠀
Prior to the pandemic, Brighter Bites was distributing thousands of pounds of produce a week, made possible by City Harvest. Then COVID-19 hit, schools closed, and overnight the communities shut down and households lost access to the fresh produce that Brighter Bites had helped make a part of their daily table.
Brighter Bites had access to the food and a strong community of families who wanted it but needed experts on the ground to support with developing a delivery service in record time. Queens Together (www.queenstogether.com) stepped up to introduce Brighter Bites to The Connected Chef, whose model of Lifeline Grocery Packages was the exact system Brighter Bites needed to utilize in order to get produce to families in a safe way. The intial project was developed in just 11 days - with Brighter Bites managing family outreach and funding, The Connected Chef managing logistics of reemploying restaurant staff to run the program and routing thousands of deliveries to be accomplished in a single day, and Queens Together drawing on their deep knowledge of the local businesses to source a space for the project and community support.
Getting the project up and running was a true team effort and was accomplised in record time. With the project now fully underway, Brighter Bites and The Connected Chef are managing all aspects of the program and seeking your support via crowdfunding to ensure we can continue to replicate this success week after week.
Responding to the Need
According to the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute, 4 in 5 households in New York report are struggling to access food due to COVID-19. Latin-X and multi-racial families, who make up the majority of Brighter Bites participants, are almost twice as like to face reduced access to food. Yet as rates of hunger rise, access to emergency food has plummeted. 98 soup kitchens and food pantries have closed their doors. Families report shortages at local stores and long lines to access free food resources, forcing them to choose between safety and necessity. The families we will serve attend schools in the epicenter of the epicenter. The majority of families live in Jackson Heights and East Elmhurst, where rates of COVID-19 confirmed cases are up to 106% greater than the city average.⠀