Healthy Food for Denver's Kids

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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. The funds are distributed through competitive grants to agencies of local government, Denver Public Schools, and non-profit organizations, with an emphasis on serving low-income and at-risk 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 $7 million dollars to 64 organizations in 2020.

Additional Information

Learn more about the purpose of funds, who's involved in the program, and Commission meetings.

Purpose of the Funds

Funds from the Healthy Foods for Denver's Kids Program go to:

  • Help Denver’s kids (primarily low income or at-risk) have year-round access to up to three healthy meals and snacks per day
  • Hands-on experiential education and public health programs about farming, gardening, cooking, home economics, nutrition and healthy eating
  • Preferential procurement of food from Colorado farms, ranches, and food manufacturers
  • Organizations must conduct the majority of their activities within the City and County of Denver, and principally benefit the city and its residents
  • Grantees must provide regular reporting on activities funded
  • Some funds can cover administration for applicant organizations, but no more than 10% can go towards City administration costs

Impacts of the Funds

DDPHE’s Healthy Food for Denver’s Kids distributed nearly $7 million in 2020 to 64 organizations offering healthy food access!

HFDK_kidsfarming.jpg The Denver Department of Public Health & Environment announces the release of its annual report for the Healthy Food for Denver’s Kids (HFDK) program, which in 2020 distributed $6.84 million to nonprofit organizations, Denver Public Schools, and agencies of local government, with an emphasis on providing healthy food and food-based education to low-income and at-risk youth.

Across 25 organizations, the 2020 grants awarded $5.96 million, with an average grant size of $238,000. The first HFDK funding opportunity opened in February of 2020, but the application deadline was extended to accommodate organizations’ limited capacity at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Commission received 38 applications; ultimately, 25 organizations were selected for funding, the majority of which are nonprofit organizations, as well as 8 schools or affiliates of Denver Public Schools and one city agency (the Denver Public Library). An estimated 132,000 youth will be impacted by food programming through these organizations.

In March 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the HFDK Commission approved the immediate mobilization of $1.1 million through a rapid-response grant program to provide meals and groceries to Denver residents affected by COVID-19. HFDK partnered with the Colorado Blueprint to End Hunger’s COVID-19 Emergency Hunger Relief Fund to streamline grant applications for nonprofit organizations. In total, $880,903 in HFDK funds (with an average grant size of $17,000) were awarded to 52 organizations – 13 of which also were awarded initial HFDK grants – in April and May to feed youth in Denver during the pandemic.

“Our overarching goal is to ensure that no Denver child goes hungry,” says Robert McDonald, Executive Director of DDPHE. “COVID-19 quickly revealed the vulnerability of those who do not have adequate access to healthy food in Denver, and DDPHE is committed to responding to this need, through the Healthy Food for Denver’s Kids program and our other ongoing programs that implement the Denver Food Vision.”

Read the full annual report here(PDF, 23MB).

Additional Information

*If you are unable to read any part of these document, please contact us at lauren.howe@denvergov.org.

About the Healthy Food for Denver's Kids (HFDK) Commission

Overview of the HFDK Commission:

In the summer of 2019, the Denver Office of Boards and Commissions selected the first members for the Healthy Food for Denver’s Kids Commission (HFDK Commission), following the legal establishment of the initiative and fund. The HFDK Commission was created to advise and review the distribution, effectiveness and impact of tax funds and other funds allocated to the initiative. The HFDK Commission is appointed by the Mayor of Denver through the Denver Office of Boards and Commissions and administered by the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment (DDPHE). Members serve terms of three years.

The HFDK Commission consists of 13 members, including:

  • Three members of the Mayor’s cabinet, or staff of City departments, appointed by the Mayor
  • Two members of the City Council, approved by the City Council
  • Four residents of the city, appointed by the Mayor
  • Four representatives of city-wide organizations or institutions engaged in food related activities, each appointed by the Mayor


Required Commissioner Experience:

Members should represent wide systems knowledge in food, gardening, youth development, non-profit administration, public health, grant-making, and business development. Appointed commissioners should reflect the geographic, demographic, socioeconomic, and ethnic diversity of the City and County of Denver. Commissioners must be residents of the City and County of Denver, over the age of twenty-one (21) years, and not currently a volunteer or paid staff person of an organization applying for Healthy Food for Denver’s Kids Initiative funding.


Duties of the Commission:

The HFDK Commission meets regularly to set funding priority areas, advise how to use the funds through a public application process, including creating criteria for the selection of organizations to receive HFDK funds, issue funds for healthy food and related education, and ensure the funds are best used for their intended purposes. The Commission recommends procedures for the funding application, consideration and selection of grantees that are then carried out by DDPHE staff. The HFDK Commission meets according to public meeting rules and is required to report annually on the funds distributed to the City Council and Mayor.

Commission Term: Three years. The terms shall be staggered so that at least three (3) of the commissioners shall be appointed each year. No commissioner shall serve more than two terms.
Compensation: None
Confirmation: No
Function:  Determine the allocation of funding derived from Healthy Food for Kids Sales Tax. The Commission consists of 11 members appointed by the Mayor and 2 members appointed by City Council.
Qualifications: Must be a member of the Denver community.
Enabling Authorization: Ordinance #302

View additional information(PDF, 69KB) about the current Commission members, including term lengths.

More details about requirements and qualifications for the Commission are available on the Board and Commission website

Ordinance 302

For the full original language establishing the Healthy Food for Denver’s Kids initiative and Commission as it is outlined in Ordinance 302, refer to the Denver Revised Municipal Code.

 

Current Commission Members

AlexisWeightman.jpg Alexis Weightman     

Alexis Weightman is a Senior Policy Officer at the Colorado Health Foundation.  Over the past decade, she has worked with stakeholders to influence and implement public policy solutions to improve the health of Coloradans and to promote health equity. Most recently, she has been actively engaged in efforts to address hunger in Colorado.  As a HFDK Commissioner, she is passionate about the opportunity to provide nutritious, dependable meals and snacks for Denver kids. Prior to joining the Foundation, Alexis consulted on domestic and international health programs and conducted large scale program evaluations in Boston and Washington, D.C.   Alexis holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Middlebury College and a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Denver.  She is a proud fourth generation Colorado native and enjoys spending time with her two daughters, husband and black lab. 


BlakeAngelo.jpg Blake Angelo
Blake Angelo joins the HFDK Commission with over a decade of consulting work supporting hundreds of food businesses and demonstrated policy leadership in the development of the Denver Food Vision and the management of the voter-approved $100M+ Healthy Food for Denver Kids Campaign. He has also served as a CSU Extension Agent, helped draft multiple state-wide food and farm plans for Colorado, and executed multi-million-dollar health care business transformations. Blake has a master’s degree in Public Health and a bachelor’s degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.   

 


BlakeEnyart.jpg Blake Enyart 
Blake is a passionate about understanding how data can be used to make informed decisions to improve the Denver community. As part of the Commission, he is excited about analyzing and reviewing findings on the data that is collected. He is currently working as a Machine Learning Engineer at Nutrien which is an agricultural supply company in Loveland, CO that serves farmers throughout the region. Blake brings a historical knowledge of numerous food system initiatives throughout the region to the Commission. With his experience in teaching, consulting, research, and public policy, he brings skillsets such as: implementing community surveys/listening sessions, data analytics, building collaborative teams, and volunteer/community engagement. Ultimately, he is excited to learn about the incredible impact of HFDK and communicate the results both internally on the Commission and to the broader Denver public.


ChelseaParraga.jpg Chelsea Párraga
Chelsea is the Philanthropy Partnerships Manager for History Colorado. She brings five years of experience as a nonprofit professional and grant writer to the Commission. Chelsea has worked for organizations serving both small farmers and youth from Title I schools, and is passionate about equitable food access. Her driving reason for joining the Commission is to ensure that all kids in Denver know that their basic need for healthy food will be met by their community. On most weekends you can catch her on one of Denver's many bike trails.  

 

 


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Deborah “Debbie” Ortega
Deborah “Debbie” Ortega is an at-large member of Denver City Council representing the entire city. She was elected to an at-large position on Denver City Council in 2011 and was re-elected in 2015 and 2019. Born in Raton, New Mexico, Debbie is the daughter of a coal miner who was killed in a mine accident. Her mom raised Debbie, her three sisters and brother for a number of years before marrying her stepdad. The family came to Denver when she was 13. She attended Kepner Middle School. Debbie still regularly walks Sloan’s Lake with her middle school friend Michelle. Following graduation from West High School, the councilwoman was called to a life of public service. She worked for former Lt. Governor George Brown and U.S. Senator Floyd Haskell before accepting a position with Denver City Councilman Sal Carpio in 1979. She was elected as Carpio’s successor in 1987; was elected by her peers in 1994 and 1995 as Council President, and served until 2003 when term limits required she leave office along with nine of her colleagues. Councilwoman Ortega continued her public service after leaving office serving as the first executive director of the Denver’s Homelessness Commission that put together our city’s 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness, also known as Denver’s Road Home. She serves as chair of Del Norte Neighborhood Development Corporation, a non-profit building affordable housing. She has also served on the board of directors and chair of the board of Latina Safehouse. Councilwoman Ortega raised her daughter Janelle in Denver. Janelle and her husband Gabe have raised their five children in Denver; three of whom are currently serving in the US Navy and US Air Force.


JamieTorres.jpg Jamie Torres
Councilwoman Jamie Torres, Denver City Council Member representing District 3, has been a community advocate and community connector for several years, which is one of many reasons that brought her to HFDK. Over the years in working for local government, Jamie worked directly on issues of poverty, equity, food insecurity, community and civic engagement, and immigrant integration. “As a lifelong resident of west Denver, I know our communities have the hardest access to healthy food. I am passionate about the HFDK Commission to quickly provide resources for our community during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a group of dedicated individuals who are ensuring our underresourced communities are taken care of.” A fun fact about Councilwoman Torres is that she loves to read with her cat, Skippy, snoozing nearby. Gummy bears and watermelon are her favorite snacks.


LaineCidlowski.jpg Laine Cidlowski
Laine is the Food Systems Administrator for the city of Denver in the Denver Department of Public Health & Environment. She oversees the Denver Sustainable Food Policy Council and leads the Food Systems team to implement the Denver Food Vision to make the city’s food systems more healthy, vibrant, inclusive, and resilient. Laine was previously the first Food Policy Director for the District of Columbia and the leader of the first public DC Food Policy Council. Laine holds a Master’s Degree in City and Regional Planning and a Certificate in Urban Design from the University of Pennsylvania and B.A. from the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill in Environmental Studies. She is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners, and serves on the leadership committee of the American Planning Association’s Food Systems Division.     


LisanaMunoz.jpg Lisana Muñoz
Lisana Muñoz is the Deputy Director of Community Partnerships with Denver Human Services (DHS). Lisana has dedicated her entire career to helping bring food access and resources to the Denver Community. She has worked with DHS in a variety of leadership roles for over 12 years and currently has led the charge for multiple food initiatives, as well as worked in the Family and Adult Division, which focuses on enrollment of benefits such as SNAP, Medicaid, and Cash Assistance. Lisana values the importance of community partnership and collaboration. Prior to working for DHS, she worked for Junior Achievement, which focuses on promoting financial literacy in schools.  She currently serves as an Ex-Officio on the Denver Sustainable Food Policy Council, and on multiple committees regarding providing emergency food support.  She was fortunate to launch the Denver Snap Initiative Explorer Pass in partnership with multiple cultural institutions to provide $1 access for families who are currently receiving SNAP. This increased access for thousands of individuals to visit places like the Denver Zoo, Art Museum, Children's Museum, and more. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from the University of Colorado, and her MBA from Regis University. She is an advocate for equity and access for the immigrant community, as her family came from Peru, South America. Most importantly, she believes in the value of providing holistic wrap around services through a trauma informed lens to all those in need.  Lisana feels fortunate to be a part of the HFDK Commission because this allows her the opportunity to work with multiple stakeholders and make a big impact in the fight against hunger for our children. As a mother of three young children, she believes that ensuring that our kids have proper access to food and nutrition will help shape their lives and their future.


PattiIwasaki.jpg Patricia “Patti” Iwasaki
Patricia Iwasaki has a B.A. Sociology (UCLA), Masters Social Work (DU, Health & Soc. Administration) and finished coursework in UCD’s Health & Behavioral Science Ph.D. She served on Denver’s Sustainable Food Policy Council two terms (2014-2020), chaired the Minority Health Advisory Commission that advised the Director and Office of Health Equity at Colorado’s Dept. of Public Health and Environment. Patti has 25+ years working with low income, people of color, immigrant, asylee, refugee communities (Colorado, California, Texas/along the border) advocating health equity, capacity-building and local control. She has 10+ years teaching at DU’s Graduate School of Social Work (healthcare, chronic/terminal illness, community practice). Her community health research has been in Los Angeles (three Asian communities), London (government workers) and Houston (cancer control with Latinos). She’s a board member of Taking Neighborhood Health to Heart/TNH2H, focused now on NE Denver Environmental Justice. She helped qualitative data analysis: Denver’s Food Action Plan. She served on Denver’s Climate Action Task Force (2019-2020).


SandraStenmark.jpg Sandra Stenmark
Sandra Stenmark is a Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at University of Colorado School of Medicine.  The HFDK Commission goals of improving access to nutritious food and nutrition education align with her work as a pediatrician of 40 years.  She directed the Kaiser Permanente Pediatric Obesity Prevention and Treatment program, which linked pregnant women and families to both nutritional education and nutrition resources, including federal nutrition assistance programs.  Other relevant clinical work was improving food security through the lifespan. Sandra has presented at state and national conferences on the role of health systems in improving nutritious food access, diet quality and food systems.  In addition to clinical interventions, Sandra has advocated and testified for state and national policies which promote nutritious food access and health equity.  Sandra considers it an honor to work with other Commission and community members on advancing the goals of the HFDK initiative.     


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Shelby Miller
Shelby Miller leads the nutrition education and scientific affairs work of Natural Grocers. Much of her time is spent on researching the latest nutrition science publications and transforming them into educational materials for Natural Grocers' nutrition professionals, employees, and communities. She also uses this information to inform quality standards decisions. Shelby graduated from Iowa State University with both Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in Dietetics and Exercise Science. Her graduate research concerned the influence of gut bacteria on pediatric obesity. When not working, you can find Shelby curled up with a sci-fi/fantasy book or walking her dog.


SusanGallo.jpg Susan Gallo
Susan M. Gallo, Ph.D., is the Director of Health Initiatives for the Denver Office of Children’s Affairs.  She oversees the Tasty Food program, which address a major goal of the City—that all children access nutritious meals.   Annually, these programs serve between 150,000 to 175,000 meals. In addition, she addresses other health policy issues critical to the success of Denver’s children, including transportation, mental health, safe water and tobacco control. Dr. Gallo received her A.B. degree in Psychology from Stanford University and received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Colorado Boulder. She completed her Pre-doctoral Fellowship at the Ann Arbor Veterans’ Administration Medical Center and her Post-doctoral Fellowship in the Departments of Family Practice and Psychiatry at the University of Michigan School of Medicine. She is married and has two teenagers who help guide her work so that all children and youth in Denver receive the health and nutrition supports essential to them becoming thriving adults.


The HFDK Commission currently has one vacant seat that will be filled as part of the 2021 new member application process.

Apply to be a member of the HFDK Commission

If you’re interested in serving on the Healthy Food for Denver’s Kids Commission, please visit our Commission Application page for additional information on requirements, qualifications and the application process.

Commission Meeting Information and Schedule

The HFDK Commission meets regularly according to the schedule below:

Meets: Third Friday of the month
Meeting Time: 9:00 - 11:30 a.m.
Meeting Location: Remote/virtual meetings via Zoom until further notice.

The HFDK Commission meeting schedule will be posted online on the calendar below. All meetings are open to the public.

If you are interested in joining this meeting remotely via Zoom, here are the meeting details:

Join Zoom Meeting from the web: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/708106523
Meeting ID: 708 106 523
One tap mobile: +13462487799,,708106523# US or +14086380968,,708106523# US
Or dial: +1 312 626 6799

You may also download and import the iCalendar(.ics) files to your calendar system for HFDK’s monthly Commission meetings. 

Meeting agendas, PowerPoint presentations and meeting notes from past meetings are all available on our publicly accessible Google Drive.

We will be posting the agenda and accompanying materials to our Google Drive, at least a week ahead of the meeting. 

Accessibility accommodations will be available for HFDK meetings upon request. Please submit your request at least 2-weeks ahead of the meeting by emailing lauren.howe@denvergov.org

Healthy Food for Denver’s Kids is committed to language justice. Language interpretation with be provided in Spanish for all meetings via Zoom. Se proporcionará interpretación al español para todas las reuniones a través de Zoom.

Healthy Food for Denver's Kids Calendar

 

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Timeframe: Funds will be collected from January 1, 2019 through December 31, 2028 and distributed by December 31, 2029.

Healthy Food for Denver's Kids Funding Timeline(PDF, 43KB)