Q & A

What is “healthy food?”

Healthy food includes affordable fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, lean meats, poultry, fish, whole grains, and low-fat milk. These are items which are necessary to prepare nutritious, affordable meals at home.

How is “access” to healthy food retailers defined?

“Access” refers to the distance that a resident must travel from home to get to a healthy food store. The generally accepted definition of “access” is one mile.  However, a “reasonable distance” for someone walking or using transit while carrying grocery bags is closer to ¼ mile. An analysis of “reasonable distance” is also based on comparing how far a resident in a low-income, underserved neighborhood must travel versus the distance traveled by a resident in a higher-income, well-served neighborhood where healthy food retail is more available.

What are “underserved areas?”

An area that is underserved is defined as having residents who lack access to healthy food because they live farther than the average Denver distance from a supermarket or grocery store. In addition, underserved areas have lower incomes on average than the city as a whole, and lower vehicle ownership, which makes transportation to grocery stores more difficult and restricts access to healthy foods.

How can I participate with my existing store?

The Denver FRESH program has been designed to address a range of scenarios involving promoting the development of healthy food retail, including both existing as well as new businesses. We will work individually with each existing or aspiring retail owner to determine whether a project can benefit from the financing and assistance options available.

What if I want to launch a food retail store, but need help with how and where?

Denver FRESH has created GIS maps showing all existing or planned food retail establishments throughout Denver. Combined with median income and household profiles, this mapping can help you determine which areas have the highest need and lowest access.

In addition, because Denver FRESH is part of the Office of Economic Development, we can advise you on a wide range of business support issues from enterprise zones, small business financing, tax credits, community development funds, employee recruitment and training, and commercial real estate options.

For general information about starting a business in Denver, download the Business Startup Checklist.

What if I have a site in mind already, but am not open for business?

Denver FRESH can work with you to determine how the allocation of space and merchandising can help your project succeed. We know that every project is unique, and look forward to discussing your plans with you.

What financing resources are available for my food retail project?

Because the challenges of health food access are actively being addressed on the federal and state level as well as here in Denver, we are able to direct you to a number of financing opportunities that you may qualify for, from business loans to community development grants to funding through such initiatives as the Colorado Fresh Food Financing Fund (CO4F).

What does healthy food access have to do with economic development?

Healthy food makes for healthy people, who build stronger communities and enjoy an enhanced quality of life. Better public health means more money can be directed instead to public safety, infrastructure like roads and parks, better schools, affordable housing, protecting the environment, and arts and culture. More retail in any neighborhood creates local jobs.

How will the Denver FRESH program measure its success?

Every individual food retail business that either opens with healthy food choices or adds healthy food to its existing merchandise mix will help Denver’s residents in that neighborhood eat better and live better, so every project matters to our shared success.

Our work will be done when all underserved areas in the city are eliminated due to more healthy retail available, households add more healthy food to their diet, overall health indicators such as diabetes and obesity are positively affected, and both the overall nutritional health of both Denver residents as well as the economic health of Denver retail owners is sustainably strong.