Food System Policies

Many Denver residents, especially children, have limited access to healthy, affordable foods and beverages. Limited access to nutritious food can result in poor health. Creating healthy communities is not just about changing individual behaviors, it is also about changing the environments in which people live, work, learn and play. Denver and its community partners are working to create a unified food system vision.

By implementing broad, coordinated, and evidence-based strategies across the food system, Denver has an opportunity to achieve the City’s health, economic, and environmental sustainability goals. We have an opportunity to improve the community’s food environments so all Denver residents can have equitable access to good health and wellbeing they deserve.

 Read and Download our Denver Food Action Plan

Related Programs and Information

Data and Maps

For citywide or neighborhood based food assets, resources, and data, view our interactive food systems map.

Below is a static map showing areas with limited food access.


Denver Food Vision 2030

In October 2017, the City and County of Denver released the final Denver Food Vision 2030. The vision is based on the Denver Food Baseline Report, the Denver Food System Metrics, and significant stakeholder engagement.

Denver’s 2015 Baseline report provides an overview of the activities by multiple City and County of Denver agencies to address some aspect of the food system – from production, distribution, and retail to consumption and composting.

The report helps identify and prioritize food policy options that offer the greatest potential to impact population health, as well as build on the successes of other programs.  It suggests new and existing food system policy options for the city and its partners to inform decision-making about how to reach health, economic, and environmental sustainability goals.

For more information on Denver's food system, email comments and questions to

Food Vision 2030 Resumen Ejecutivo en español.

The Food Action Plan

The Food Action Plan is a set of strategic projects to increase food equity in the city. The plan serves as an action-oriented companion piece to the Denver Food Vision, an aspirational view of advancing our food system in Denver.

The Food Action Plan is fulfilled through a series of projects. Our first highlighted project is Food Matters, a collaborative effort with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), funded by The Rockefeller Foundation, to reduce the amount of food being wasted in Denver homes and businesses. 

As the second project, the Food in Communities project charts a path to achieve this bold vision for all Denver metro area communities to have access to fresh, healthy, affordable, and culturally-relevant foods. 

Food System Policies and Population Health: Moving Toward Collective Impact in Denver

Denver’s 2015 report is an overview of the activities by multiple City and County of Denver agencies to address some aspect of the food system – from production, distribution and retail to consumption and composting.

The report helps identify and prioritize food policy options that offer the greatest potential to impact population health, as well as build on the successes of other programs.   new and existing food system policy options for the City and its partners to inform decision-making about how to reach health, economic and environmental sustainability goals.

Healthy Beverage Partnership

The Healthy Beverage Partnership (HBP) is a regional collaborative effort that is focused on addressing health inequities and the urgent issue of children reaching an unhealthy weight status experienced by children and communities of color. 

The HBP is made up of six public health agencies: Boulder County Public Health, City and County of Broomfield Public Health and Environment, the City and County of Denver Department of Public Health and Environment, The Public Health Institute at Denver Health, and Jefferson County Public Health and is sponsored by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment through the Cancer, Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Disease (CCPD) Grants Program.

The HBP is a unique regional partnership in Colorado focused on sugary drink education and policy strategies to reduce sugary drink consumption and reverse the upward trend of children at an unhealthy weight. This is accomplished  by decreasing deceptive sugary drink marketing in public spaces and restaurants, decreasing availability of harmful sugary drinks to children (especially children of color), and improving healthy norms and options for all families. Too much weight for health (a body mass index above 25) significantly increases the risk of preventable and costly short and long term health issues, such as type II diabetes, cancer, fatty liver, asthma, cavities, and heart disease.  The efforts of the HBP have contributed to the stabilization of weight gain in children in the Metro Denver region. 

The Denver Department of Public Health and Environment can provide the following services to assist you and your organization in developing healthier food and beverage policies and practices: Conducting baseline assessments of food and beverage environments and policies. Providing technical assistance in the creation and adoption of healthy food and beverage policies and practices

  • Healthy Meetings
  • Healthier Vending
  • Healthier Concessions and Cafeterias
  • Implementing educational and public information campaigns, including the Hidden Sugar Campaign Toolkit.

For more information contact: Andrea Pascual, Denver Health and Hospital Authority

Executive Order No. 70 – Healthier City Vending Machines – was signed May 25, 2018, by Mayor Michael B. Hancock, establishing a policy to provide healthier food and beverage options in City vending machines.

Accessing Healthy Food

Growing and Selling Food

Community Gardens: The Denver metro area has more than 190 community and school gardens. To find out more about which gardens have available plots, gardening classes, or other programs near you, visit Denver Urban Gardens’ website. To find more local classes and gardening or nutrition resources, view Colorado State Extension’s agriculture, gardening, or nutrition programs.

Farming: Some Denver zoning allows for agricultural and farming land uses. Under the Open Space zone O-2, allows large tracts of open land utilized for agriculture or ranching activities, airports and under special conditions, oil and gas production. To find out more about where agricultural and farming uses are allowed, visit the Denver zoning map and Denver Zoning Code(PDF, 34MB) and search for agriculture.

Selling Produce: The Residential Sales Ordinance allows Denver residents living in residential zone districts to sell from their homes fresh produce they have grown themselves, and cottage foods, such as jams and honey, they grow and make themselves. View a guide to residential sales in English (pdf) and En Espanol (pdf), or apply for a permit.

Keeping Food Producing Animals: Denver allows keeping animals for food purposes, including chickens, ducks and goats. To find out more about local requirements and to apply for permit, visit Denver Animal Protection's resources.  

Restaurant and Food Establishment Licensing

All food businesses must maintain a current Denver Business and Professional license through the Department of Excise and Licenses. The Department of Excise and Licenses can help determine which license is appropriate for your food business. Examples of food business licenses include:

Advisement for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, Regarding Business Licenses:

Colorado requires an Affidavit of Lawful Presence to obtain a business license in the State of Colorado. To ensure that the city's form is clear and accessible to DACA recipients, who are eligible with the proper documentation, the Department of Excise and Licenses has included in List A on the second page of the Affidavit the Employment Authorization Document (EAD), which can be offered to prove lawful presence.

Dedicated and entrepreneurial community members advocated for the clarified information through the Department of Public Health and Environment, Department of Excise & License, Office of Immigrant & Refugee Affairs and the City Attorney’s Office.

Find more information and a copy of the Affidavit of Lawful Presence.

Aviso para los beneficiados por la Acción Diferida para Arribos en la Infancia (DACA) con respecto a Licencias para Negocios:

La ley de Colorado requiere una Declaración Jurada (Affidavit) de Presencia Legal para obtener una licencia de negocios en el Estado de Colorado. Para asegurarnos que el formulario municipal es claro y accesible a los beneficiados por DACA, que son elegibles para gestionar esa licencia si presentan los documentos apropiados, el Departamento de Impuestos Especiales y Licencias ha incluido en la Lista A en la segunda página de la Declaración Jurada el denominado Documento de Autorización de Empleo (EAD), que se puede presentar para demostrar presencia legal.

Miembros dedicados y emprendedores de la comunidad impulsaron y pidieron esta aclaración e información ante el Departamento de Salud Pública y Medio Ambiente, el Departamento de Impuestos Especiales y Licencias, la Oficina de Asuntos de Inmigrantes y Refugiados, y la Oficina del Fiscal de la Ciudad de Denver.

Para más información y para una copia del Affidavit of Lawful Presence (Declaración Jurada de Presencia Legal) pulsar (hacer clic) aquí. 

For more specific questions, please contact us at 720-913-1311 or 311 in the Denver Metro area

Sustainable Food Policy Council

The Denver Sustainable Food Policy Council is a citizen-driven food policy council that is appointed by the Mayor. The mission of the SFPC is to influence policy that fosters food security for all community members and promotes a healthy, equitable, and sustainable local food system with consideration for economic vitality and environmental impact. 

It works to:

  • Educate, raise awareness and build support for the local food system
  • Advise the City on laws, policies, and programs related to food
  • Promote food security
  • Foster a sustainable food system.


Updates and Newsletter

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