Founder & Board Chair
For several years, Lisa Helfman and her family took part in a weekly fruit and vegetable co-op, and she watched her children’s eating habits dramatically transform. So much so that her little boy turned down a piece of cake at a birthday party, craving instead the blueberries he’d grown fond of eating at home.
Like most moms, Lisa realized this was a fairly significant decision for a five-year-old, and she wondered what kind of influence regular access to fresh produce might have on all children. Especially if that produce was free to families.
She was inspired to replicate this type of positive change in underserved communities identified as “food deserts,” or areas where access to grocery stores stocked with fresh fruits and vegetables is sorely limited. Because nutrition education in these communities is often equally lacking, Lisa’s vision was to bring a produce co-op to schools in these neighborhoods that included an educational component.
She created a collaborative partnership between the Houston Food Bank and Dr. Shreela Sharma, an expert in nutrition and a professor of epidemiology at UTHealth School of Public Health, and they launched the program now known as Brighter Bites. Four years later, Brighter Bites has delivered more than 8,000,000 pounds of fresh produce to over 20,000 families at over 90 sites in Houston, Dallas, and Austin.
When she isn’t pushing kids to eat kale smoothies, Lisa is Director of Real Estate for H-E-B and is working on the company’s significant expansion in Houston. Prior to joining H-E-B, Lisa served as Director of Real Estate Services at Texas Children’s Hospital where she created the Real Estate Services Department in order to centralize the hospital’s real estate operations. Lisa worked at Texas Children’s for seven years after leaving Vinson & Elkins where she represented many urban redevelopment clients, non-profits, and government entities in financings, real estate, and other general matters. Lisa received her JD from University of Houston Law Center and her BA from Tulane University.