The Journal of Primary Prevention

, Volume 36, Issue 4, pp 281–286 | Cite as

Feasibility and Acceptability of Brighter Bites: A Food Co-Op in Schools to Increase Access, Continuity and Education of Fruits and Vegetables Among Low-Income Populations

  • Shreela Sharma
  • Lisa Helfman
  • Katherine Albus
  • Mike Pomeroy
  • Ru-Jye Chuang
  • Christine Markham
Brief Report


Intake of fruits and vegetables (F&V) continues to be low in children in the United States. The purpose of this study was to conduct a pilot feasibility evaluation of Brighter Bites, a school-based food co-op to provide access to fresh F&V and nutrition education to low-income children and their families. Brighter Bites is a 16-week school-based food co-op consisting of: (1) Weekly distribution of 50–60 servings of fresh F&V; (2) Weekly bilingual parent handouts and recipe demonstrations; and (3) implementing CATCH, a coordinated school health program in schools. Brighter Bites was pilot tested using a pre-post evaluation design in one charter school in Houston, TX, USA (n = 57 3rd grade parent–child dyads; 94.1 % Hispanic, 91 % low-income). Evaluation, at baseline, midpoint, and post-intervention, included self-reported child and parent surveys on psychosocial factors, dietary habits and mealtime practices. Pearson’s Chi square test, Fisher’s exact-test or paired t test were used to determine changes pre- to post-intervention (at p < 0.05). Process data using parent surveys, teacher surveys, attendance logs, and produce cost data were used to determine feasibility and acceptability of program. Participants received on average 61 servings of F&V weekly for 16 weeks at the cost of $4.31/family/week. Results showed significant increases in child reported self-efficacy, outcome expectations and attitudes towards consuming F&V (p < 0.05). We found significant increases in child exposure to F&V and child preference of various F&V from baseline to post-intervention (p < 0.05). Parent surveys showed significant improvements in mealtime practices at home: decrease in children eating while watching TV, increase in eating dinner with the family, less fast food, less sugary drinks with meals, more children asking for F&V as snacks. Process data showed 98 % retention rate and high parent acceptability of program components. Brighter Bites is a promising strategy to increase F&V access and education in low-income populations using existing infrastructure of schools and food banks.


Food co-op Community based participatory research Healthy eating Elementary school children Fruit and vegetable intake 



We would like to thank the Houston Food Bank leadership and staff for their continuous dedication and support for the Project. We would also like to thank the KIPP leadership as well as the principal, administrators, teachers, and families at the participating KIPP elementary school. Finally, we would like to thank Texas Children’s Hospital, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas, The United Way, Michael and Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living at the University of Texas School of Public Health, and The American Leadership Forum—Houston/Gulf Coast Chapter for their support of the project.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest for the current study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shreela Sharma
    • 1
    • 4
  • Lisa Helfman
    • 2
  • Katherine Albus
    • 5
  • Mike Pomeroy
    • 1
  • Ru-Jye Chuang
    • 1
  • Christine Markham
    • 3
  1. 1.Michael and Susan Dell Center for Healthy LivingThe University of Texas School of Public HealthHoustonUSA
  2. 2.H-E-BSpringUSA
  3. 3.The Center for Health Promotion and Prevention ResearchThe University of Texas School of Public HealthHoustonUSA
  4. 4.The University of Texas School of Public HealthHoustonUSA
  5. 5.Region 17 Education Service CenterLubbockUSA

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