Brighter Bites provides free and healthy food to Immokalee families

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A new partnership is fighting “food deserts” in parts of Southwest Florida that were hit by Hurricane Irma.

“Food deserts are defined as parts of the country vapid of fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthful whole foods, usually found in impoverished areas,” according to the USDA. “This is largely due to a lack of grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and healthy food providers.”

Immokalee is one area where children don’t always see healthy food on their plates. 99 percent of students in the area qualify for free lunch, according to school officials.

Hurricane Irma ravaged the Immokalee community which was already struggling.

That’s where Brighter Bites comes to the rescue.

“Not only are we getting them food but we’re giving them education and teaching them how to use it,” said Lisa Helfman, founder of Brighter Bites.

Brighter Bites is teaming up with Harry Chapin and Lipman Farms to help families access and learn about free healthy produce.

The free produce saves families about $35 a week.

Sponsors brought the group in from Texas. Helfman says these meals aren’t just a temporary fix. The program is built to form habits and children are eager to get their fruits and veggies each week.

“It’s fun and it’s becoming a part of the fabric of their lives,” said Helfman.

In fact, 94 percent of families report that they eat all of the produce provided weekly.

The program will expand to more schools and the Boys and Girls Club summer camp.

To register for those camps, you can visit the Boys and Girls Club website. 


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