Innovative Partnership to Address Food Insecurity during the COVID-19 Pandemic: The Brighter Bites Produce Voucher Program

Country: United States
State / Locale: Houston, Dallas, Austin, New York City, Washington D.C., and Southwest Florida
Population: Low-Income Children and Families
Community Engagement (IAP2 Spectrum): Consult
Equity: People Place Process

Study Description:
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Brighter Bites, a school-based non-profit organization helping low-income families with access to fresh healthy foods and nutrition education, had to stop their regular programing due to school closures. This made it harder for families in the six cities across the United States who depended on their help. To tackle this, Brighter Bites partnered with grocery stores and gave families $25 vouchers every two weeks (up to $100 per family) to buy fresh produce. During the pandemic, Brighter Bites gave out 43,000 vouchers to 12,482 families (about half of those who gave their addresses). About 60% of these families used at least one voucher to buy produce, and most families found the vouchers easy to use (94%) and very helpful (97.5%) for getting and eating more fruits and vegetables. Giving out produce vouchers like the ones provided by Brighter Bites can help people eat more fruits and vegetables and have enough food. But the vouchers were only given for a limited time and amount (four times, totaling $100), which might not be enough to fully solve the problem of not having enough food in the long run. Programs like these can be helpful for immediate need but longer system changes should be explored to make sure families can always get enough healthy food.

Haidar, A., Markham, C., Marshall, A., Chuang, R. J., Spence, M., Boone, J., ... & Sharma, S. V. (2021). Innovative partnerships to address food insecurity during the covid-19 pandemic: The brighter bites produce voucher program. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(17), 9175.