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 partners are working to create a common agenda and 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 change the community’s food environments so all Denver residents can attain the health and wellbeing they deserve.

 Read and Download our Denver Food Action Plan


Related Programs and Information

Areas of Limited Food Access

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Busy People Love Leftovers Campaign

In February 2021, DDPHE launched the Busy People Love Leftovers campaign to encourage busy Denverites to eat their leftovers in order to save money and time spent cooking. The bilingual campaign launched as a pilot with 600 randomly selected households in the Montbello and Green Valley Ranch neighborhoods. Each household received a magnetic board to write down which leftovers to consume first, three “Eat this First” reusable stickers to attach to food containers, and a booklet with tips on remembering to eat leftovers. Feedback on the campaign will be solicited  to access effectiveness.  

The campaign aims to incentivize participants to remember to eat leftovers in an effort to reduce the amount of edible, wholesome food that ends up in the trash. Reducing wasted food is one of Denver’s priorities in the Denver Food Vision(PDF, 8MB), a document produced with extensive community input which sets a goal for the City to reduce food waste by 57% by 2030. DDPHE hopes that the Busy People Love Leftovers campaign will help bring Denver closer to this goal. If successful, DDPHE hopes to expand the campaign to more households and neighborhoods in the future.   

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.

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.

For more information on Denver's food system, see the Denver Food System Map or email comments and questions to denverfoodplan@denvergov.org

Food Vision 2030 Resumen Ejecutivo en español.

The Good Food Purchasing Program (GFPP) uses the power of procurement to provides clear standards and strategic support to empower major institutions to procure local, sustainable, fair, and humanely produced foods while also improving access to healthy, high quality food for all of our communities.

A coalition of stakeholders is being formed by the City of Denver to further promote the adoption and implementation of GFPP to help the city meet its Denver Food Vision goals to expand local and sustainable procurement. Coalition members include representatives from the food and agricultural sector, environmental organizations, animal welfare organizations, labor unions, agency staff, parents, students, and others. We are seeking new coalition members to join our efforts to adopt this policy.

For more information, please contact:

Marion Kalb
Institutional Food Program Administrator
Marion.Kalb@denvergov.org
720-865-5511

Food Waste Reduction

About Food Matters Denver

The Food Matters project aims to advance strategies that have a significant impact in reducing the amount of food being wasted in the City and County of Denver. The Denver Department of Public Health and Environment is working across agencies to identify, design, adopt, and implement programs and policies to prevent food waste, rescue surplus food for those in need, and recycle food scraps. As part of this project, Denver is providing food waste reduction tips and education to residents and is working with restaurants on wasting less, donating more food, and expanding composting. The Natural Resources Defense Council has funded the city for two years to develop new strategies for food waste reduction that can guide systems level changes in cities around the U.S.

For more information, follow us on Twitter @DDPHE or view our action plan (pdf).

Healthy Beverage Partnership

The Healthy Beverage Partnership (HBP) is a regional collaborative effort that facilitates the development of healthy food and beverage policy and environmental changes in a wide variety of community settings in the Metro Denver area. 

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, Denver Public Health, Jefferson County Public Health and Tri-County Health Department and is sponsored by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment through the Cancer, Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Disease (CCPD) Grants Program.

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:

  1. Conducting baseline assessments of food and beverage environments and policies
  2. Providing technical assistance in the creation and adoption of healthy food and beverage policies and practices
    1. Healthy Meeting
    2. Healthier Vending
    3. Healthier Concessions and Cafeterias
  3. Implementing educational and public information campaigns, including the the Hidden Sugar Campaign Toolkit.

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.

For more information contact: Mondi Mason 720-865-5463

Increasing Healthy Food Access

Stretch your family's food dollars and get more fruits and vegetables with Double Up Food Bucks.

Apply for food assistance through Denver Human Services

Find Denver Farmers' Markets that accept SNAP (Food Stamps/EBT). 

Locate a pickup spot for Community Supported Agriculture.

Residential Sales Ordinance

The 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). 

Restaurant and Food Establishment Licensing Requirements

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.

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. 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.