( Brighter Bites logo )

Capital Area Food Bank and The Coastal Cos. Foundation are partnering with nonprofit Brighter Bites to launch school-based programs giving families increased exposure to fresh produce in Prince George’s County, Md.

The new program aims to foster healthy eating habits by giving low-income children and their families fresh fruit and vegetables along with nutrition education materials.

“We know that food habits form early, and that those habits can impact health and well-being for life,” said Radha Muthiah, president and CEO of the Capital Area Food Bank, Washington, D.C., in the release.

“We’re committed to working with our community’s schools to get good food — especially fruits and vegetables — into the hands of kids and families, which is why we’re excited by the Brighter Bites model and eager to see the impact that this partnership will have in Prince George’s County and beyond.”

The Brighter Bites programs will run in schools this spring and summer, distributing 80,000 pounds of produce and lots of nutrition education materials to 500 families and teachers at William Paca Elementary School, Cool Spring Elementary and several summer camps in Prince George’s County, according to the release.

Capital Area Food Bank and The Coastal Cos. Foundation will supply thousands of pounds of fresh produce, including warehousing and transportation services to support the initiative.

“When we learned that Brighter Bites was coming to the Washington, D.C., area, we knew right away it would be the ideal partnership for The Coastal Cos. Foundation,” Micah Brown, president of East Coast Fresh and executive director of The Coastal Cos. Foundation, said in the release. “Brighter Bites’ desire to provide kids and families with access to fresh, healthy food aligns perfectly with our Foundation’s mission to nourish our community.”

As part of the Brighter Bites program, parents and community volunteers pack bags of fresh produce items for families and teachers to take home free each week during three eight-week sessions. Each two-bag set has about 50 servings of eight to 12 different produce items, according to the release.

Prince George’s County is the sixth Brighter Bites program to launch after Houston, Dallas, Austin, New York City and southwest Florida.

The Coastal Cos. Foundation, established in 2012, coordinates the giving of The Coastal Cos. businesses: Coastal Sunbelt Produce, East Coast Fresh and Cold Chain Logistics.