HFDK 2020 Annual Report Released

Published on December 23, 2020

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DDPHE’s Healthy Food for Denver’s Kids distributed nearly $7 million in 2020 grants
Funds to 64 Denver organizations provide healthy food access and emergency hunger relief for youth 

The Denver Department of Public Health & Environment (DDPHE) announced today 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 130,000 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.”

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, approximately 15% -- or 1 in 7 Denver kids — did not have enough food to eat. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, estimates indicate that between 25-36% of the Denver population is now food insecure (up from 11% in 2018). Meanwhile, nearly 1 in 3 Denver youth is overweight or obese, and consumption of fruits and vegetables is low. The HFDK initiative aims to help make sure kids have enough to eat, while receiving hands-on education in gardening, cooking, and nutrition.

Voters had approved the HFDK initiative (Ordinance 302) in November 2018 to establish a sales tax to help feed Denver’s food-insecure youth. Starting in January 2019, the ordinance increased sales tax by 0.08%. HFDK collected close to $12 million dollars in 2019 and is projected to collect close to $11 million in 2020, with another approximately $12M projected for 2021. No more than 10% of funds collected may go toward administrative costs. The HFDK Commission – consisting of 13 members, including members of City Council (Councilwoman Debbie Ortega and Councilwoman Jamie Torres), city staff, and community members – was appointed and began meeting in August 2019.

For more information, visit DDPHE’s Community & Behavioral Health division’s Healthy Food for Denver’s Kids program, or review the 2020 annual report.