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First-ever “Healthy Food Challenge” issued for Globeville, Elyria-Swansea

City issues call for innovative ideas, programs to promote healthy food access, education, microbusiness

The Denver Office of Economic Development (OED) today announced that both grants and competitive loans are available to fund innovative approaches to healthy food issues in the Denver neighborhoods of Globeville and Elyria-Swansea. The “Healthy Food Challenge” will award up to $250,000 in grants to projects addressing one or more aspects of healthy food education, fresh food retail, or food-related microbusinesses, and a combined loan opportunity of $1 million has been established to support new retail as well.

“By combining grants and loan dollars, we recognize that no single strategy, in isolation, will effectively address the complex challenge of providing healthy food access in our low-income communities,” said Paul Washington, OED executive director. “The Healthy Food Challenge is intended to inspire new and creative solutions to a key community issue. We’re very excited to leverage off of other significant investments being made in these neighborhoods by the city, and partner with the nonprofit and private sectors in pursuit of mutually aligned interests.”

Through a Request for Proposals (RFP), grants are available to governmental, educational, or nonprofit organizations or agencies engaged in a public service within the Globeville and Elyria-Swansea neighborhoods. Private, for-profit organizations engaged in food retail, food distribution, and microbusiness development support for target businesses may also apply.

The RFP for grants is available online at denvergov.org/oed. A pre-bid meeting will be held on Wednesday, March 16, at 11:30 a.m. at the Swansea Recreation Center, 2650 E. 49th Ave. Proposals are due by 4 p.m. on Monday, April 11.

Information on the loan process is also available online, and pre-applications are due Thursday, September 1.

OED has identified loan funding opportunities with support from the Colorado Fresh Food Financing Fund (CO4F), Colorado Enterprise Fund, and the Colorado Department of Transportation through its I-70 East Project, among other partners.

The Healthy Food Challenge complements other efforts underway to address food insecurity in north Denver. Last month, the Globeville and Elyria-Swansea neighborhoods were selected for designation by the White House's 2016 “Local Foods, Local Places” project, awarding technical assistance from both the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help facilitate meetings with local shareholders and help craft plans to boost food accessibility and food-driven entrepreneurship.

Globeville and Elyria-Swansea have a combined population of more than 10,000 residents and yet the area is not home to a single full-service or even limited-service grocery store. Data show that many residents travel twice as far as the average Denver resident to grocery stores, most of which are outside of Denver.

Meanwhile, a recent Health Impact Assessment conducted by the Denver Department of Environmental Health reported higher than average rates of diet-related chronic diseases for Globeville and Elyria-Swansea residents, which is exacerbated by low levels of income and low levels of access to healthy food retail outlets.