HealthDay News — Brighter Bites, a school-based food cooperative program, is effective in improving children’s diets, according to a study published online in Preventing Chronic Disease.

Shreela V. Sharma, PhD, RD, from the University of Texas School of Public Health in Houston, and colleagues presented the framework used in Brighter Bites and the results of operationalizing this framework during 3 years of implementation.

The school-based food cooperative program channels mostly donated produce to low-income communities and provides nutrition education, increasing the demand for fruits and vegetables.

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The researchers found that more than 12,500 families enrolled in Brighter Bites for 16 weeks in the school year during 2013 to 2016. Over 90% of the produce for the project was donated. Families received an average of 54 to 61 servings of fresh produce each week, with an average produce cost of $2.53 per family per week. More than 80% of the parents who completed the process surveys reported the produce to be effective in improving their children’s diets.

“Brighter Bites demonstrates a successful model to address food waste and improve dietary habits of underserved families,” the authors write.

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Sharma SV, Upadhyaya M, Bounds G, Markham C. A public health opportunity found in food waste. Prev Chronic Dis. 2017;14:160596.