Healthy Food for Denver's Kids

Healthy food for Denver's kids logo

Through the 2018 Denver Ballot Measure 302(PDF, 209KB) the Healthy Food for Denver’s Kids (HFDK) Initiative proposed to increase taxes to establish a fund for healthy food and food-based education for Denver’s youth. The ballot measure was approved by 59% of voters on November 6, 2018 and went into effect in January 2019. The 0.08% increase in sales and use tax within the City and County of Denver is expected to generate approximately $11 million dollars annually and will sunset after 10 years. Funds will be collected from Jan. 1, 2019 through Dec. 31, 2028 and distributed by Dec. 31, 2029.

The funds are distributed through competitive grants to agencies of local government, public schools in Denver (including Denver Public Schools), and non-profit organizations, with an emphasis on serving low-income youth. Funding decisions are determined by a Commission made up of 13 non-profit, government, and community member volunteer appointees. The Commission is staffed by the Denver Department of Public Health & Environment (DDPHE). Since the passage of Ordinance 302, significant progress has been made on Healthy Food for Denver’s Kids, including: creating a Commission with bylaws, hiring staff, developing an evaluation structure, and granting out nearly $38 million dollars to more than 90 organizations.


Values & Approach

  1. Center racial equity, diversity and inclusion in all Commission activities and outcomes.
  2. Solicit and act on feedback by engaging grantees, community partners, kids and their families with lived experience of hunger and food insecurity. 
  3. Promote transparency in the process of the distribution of funds, forecasting of revenue and future funding opportunities. 
  4. Support the most equitable distributionof funds to grantees by adopting an equity lens to grant making. 
  5. Offer resources beyond funding by providing technical assistance, capacity building and partnership support to grantees.
  6. Promote innovation and flexibility on how funds may be spent, with the goal of maximizing impact on nutrition equity. This includes consideration funding for the establishment, expansion and ongoing operations of partner organizations. 
  7. If funding decreases or changes scope, do the least harmfor grantees and communities we serve. 
  8. Maintain an expectation of diversified revenue sources to promote financial sustainability for grantees and the longevity of their missions. 
  9. Streamline processes to reduce administrative burden, while also increasing the ease and simplicity of administering grant dollars (including reporting, invoicing, etc.).


  1. Equitable distribution: “the process of making funds available to most marginalized communities in Denver, and the organizations that serve them”
  2. Least harm: thoughtfully looking at any consequences (intended and/or unintended) that may interfere with grantees in their work/mission