It’s hard to believe, but BrightSide Produce has been delivering produce for 3 years!
BrightSide started in June 2014 when people at the University of St. Thomas, community members, the Minneapolis Health Department came together to figure out a sustainable solution for addressing food insecurity in underserved neighborhoods in Minneapolis. Food insecurity is really common - 15% of American households faced it at some point over the last year. And food insecurity is an important public health issue because it is associated with higher obesity and its associated health consequences.
The specific problem BrightSide set out to address was the challenge of stocking fruits and vegetables in urban corner stores. Traditional produce distributors generally don’t service these stores because the order sizes are too small for distributors to make a profit. To stock their shelves, corner store owners would usually buy produce at retail outlets and then resell it at higher prices. That takes time and money, and the result is high prices in a challenging sales environment.
BrightSide’s solution is to link a corner store distribution service to a sales program in more affluent communities. After each corner store run, we take the remaining items, bundle them in packages, and sell them to an ever-widening array of customers (our “Buyers Club”). The result is the nation’s first financially sustainable produce distribution service for urban corner stores.
The fuel for BrightSide’s success is our relationships. Young people from north Minneapolis work closely with St. Thomas students and faculty to make the whole operation work. They aim to use the central importance of healthy eating to bring rich and poor communities together in common purpose.
This newsletter will be a way for us to build these relationships further. We will share the stories of our team, our stores, our Buyers Club members, and our university so that everyone is aware of the impact we are all having together.
Please feel free to send story ideas to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
INTRODUCING THE BRIGHTSIDE VIDEO
Created by St. Thomas students, this video tells the story of BrightSide, explains how we operate, and features just some of the amazing people who make up this organization.
BRIGHTSIDER SPOTLIGHT: Tiara Gowen
Miss Minnesota Contestant Uses BrightSide as Platform for Pageant
On February 18th, St. Thomas student Tiara Gowen was crowned Miss River Valley and became a contestant in Miss Minnesota, a pageant part of the Miss America Foundation. Tiara's platform, key to achieving her victory, was Produce for Productivity: Powering through life with healthy eating. Her platform was inspired by her experience as a member of the BrightSide team. She said that being part of BrightSide and participating in the weekly delivery opened her eyes to see "how produce changed communities for the better" and inspired her to continue that change in communities.
Tiara will be competing for the Miss Minnesota crown this week, and will once again use Produce for Productivity as her platform, drawing heavily from her experiences with BrightSide.
UPCOMING: Summer Farm Stands
Creating Partnerships to End Food Insecurity
Starting in mid-June, we'll be kicking off our third annual summer farm stand project! Our farm stands partner one young entrepreneur from North Minneapolis with a student volunteer from the University of St. Thomas who run a farm stand outside a corner store in North Minneapolis together. These farm stands help make local produce more available to North Minneapolis residents. They also provide a space for local food entrepreneurs, such as BrightSide co-founder Demetria Fuller, to sell food products such as jams and salsas. Check out our website for dates and locations of our farm stands!