Samantha Haynes looks forward to Thursdays more than any other.
“It gives us a new adventure, new experiences for our family to do together,” said the mom of three.
Haynes lost her job as an administrative assistant last month.
“This summer has been a hard summer for us,” she said.
Still, she is trying her best to feed her kids healthy, whole, and nutrient-rich foods.
“Zucchini, squash, stuff I've never used before,” she admitted.
The seasonal fruits and vegetables are passed out to families like Haynes’ -- thanks to a program called Brighter Bites that partners with the North Texas Food Bank and YMCA.
“We don't want to just hand out fresh fruits and vegetables, we want that produce to go home and to be cooked in a meaningful healthy way,” said Jacqueline Noyola, program coordinator for Brighter Bites in Dallas.
Brighter Bites shares cooking tips and recipes as a way to offer nutrition education. They want to prevent obesity and help people live longer and healthier lives by allowing families to experiment with new foods and expand their palates.
“People aren't adventurous like that when you don't have the money,” said Rodrigua Ross, executive director of Park South YMCA. “They don't want to take a chance on buying edamame, and you don't like it, and now the money is gone and you're still hungry.”
Every Thursday is a surprise for Haynes, her boys, and everyone.
“We never know what we're going to get -- that's kind of the surprise and excitement of it all every Thursday,” explained Ross.
That surprise has been a blessing for Haynes’ children who are no longer the pickiest eaters -- and for her own well-being.
“My youngest loves to cook... so he's always excited when we get those bags,” said Haynes. “It’s taken some stress off of me as far as our grocery bill goes. I look forward to it every week.”
Brighter Bites came to Dallas in 2014 serving 150 families at three summer camp sites. Since then, the group has grown to serve over 3,300 families per week at 15 elementary schools during the school year and 900 families per week at nine camps during summertime.
So far, they’ve distributed almost five million pounds of fresh produce, locally. To volunteer or donate, go here.