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Denver Human Services and Partners Expand Discount Cultural Opportunities for Denver’s SNAP Families

Wings Over the Rockies, Butterfly Pavilion, DAM join program benefiting families receiving food assistance

Denver families receiving food assistance can now add Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum, Butterfly Pavilion, and the Denver Art Museum to the list of cultural institutions they can enjoy with their families at deeply discounted prices, thanks to an expanding partnership with Denver Human Services (DHS).

The three institutions join five others in making metro-area cultural experiences affordable for Denver families supported by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) through the DHS Explorer Pass Program (formerly known as the $1 Museum and Cultural Center Admission Program). The Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus, Denver Botanic Gardens (York Street and Chatfield Farms locations), Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Denver Zoo, and History Colorado Center round out the list of participating institutions.

“Our cultural institutions are a treasure all Denver children and their parents should be able to enjoy,” said Mayor Michael B. Hancock. “It’s a pleasure and a privilege to partner with these generous cultural facilities to ensure the more than 42,000 Denver families receiving SNAP benefits have affordable access to experiences that are educational, fun, enlightening, and imaginative.”

“We know that people of all ages live safer, healthier, and more productive lives when they have enough nutritious food to eat,” said Don Mares. “Children do better in school, parents perform better at work, and older adults don’t have to choose between eating or paying for other basic needs such as medications or home heating. Our Explorer Pass partners and food assistance programs provide our families the support and opportunity they need to grow and thrive in both mind and body.”

The DHS Explorer Pass allows SNAP recipients to pay just $1 for admission to all facilities except Butterfly Pavilion, which charges $2 per person, and Chatfield Farms, which charges $1 per car. Discounts apply year-round except at the Denver Zoo, which offers discounted admission from August 1 to April 30 annually.

SNAP families need only show their EBT card at the ticket window of each participating institution to receive the discounted admission price for up to 10 people. The program covers general admission only and may not be redeemed for special events, classes or other programs. Admission cannot be paid with an EBT card.

DHS initiated the $1 admission program in 2015 with the Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus. Today, the DHS Explorer Pass program serves SNAP benefits recipients in all 64 Colorado counties.

SNAP families have visited these institutions more than 210,000 times since the start of the program, many for the first time. To learn more about the DHS SNAP Explorer Pass Program visit

SNAP in Denver: Overview

  • The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a federal nutrition program that provides temporary food assistance to families in need. Known formerly as “food stamps,” SNAP is the nation’s first line of defense against poverty and hunger.
  • Denver’s SNAP program serves more than 42,000 households and is administered by Denver Human Services, which is dedicated to working with our community partners to reach for a vision of a healthy community where people are connected, supported, safe, and well.
  • Participation in SNAP is linked to multiple improved health outcomes, quality of life, economic self-sufficiency and decreased health care costs.*
  • In addition to helping lift Denver families out of poverty, SNAP brings revenue into the local Denver economy. For example:
    • Every federally funded SNAP dollar generates $1.79 in economic activity, supporting grocery stores and other food retail businesses, and creating jobs.
    • In an average month in 2016, SNAP served 81,000 individuals in Denver, bringing in more than $10.6 million in federally funded benefits which, in turn, generated approximately $19 million in economic activity.*^
  • Once enrolled in Denver Human Services’ SNAP program, families are connected to community partners and resources to learn how to make their SNAP food assistance funds stretch further and find ways to prepare quick and healthy snacks and meals. These resources include:
    • LiveWell Colorado’s Double Up Food Bucks Colorado program, which helps SNAP recipients save money at participating community grocery stores, farmers markets, and farm stands, including the Denver Botanic Gardens Farm Stands that pop up every Friday from June to October at Denver Human Services offices in Sun Valley and Montbello.
    • Heavily discounted admission to several of Denver’s premiere museums and cultural centers through the Denver Human Services Explorer Pass
    • Cooking Matters, a community partner that helps participants to shop smarter, use nutrition information to make healthier choices, and cook delicious, affordable meals kids will love. Please note: you do not need to receive SNAP benefits to utilize Cooking Matters programming and resources.

*Closing the SNAP Gap in Denver: Recommendations to Prevent Hunger in and Strengthen Communities, Denver SNAP Task Force, 2016 

*^Hunger Free Colorado analysis of data from the American Community Survey (2016) and county-level SNAP participation data from the Colorado Department of Human Services.