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Healthy Food Challenge Grants Awarded in Globeville, Elyria-Swansea Neighborhoods

Funds to support healthy food access, education, microbusiness

The Denver Office of Economic Development (OED) recently awarded grants to two nonprofit organizations, to support efforts to improve fresh food access and consumption in Globeville and Elyria-Swansea. Focus Points Family Resource Center and The GrowHaus were awarded $76,720 and $66,213 respectively under the OED’s “Healthy Food Challenge,” which encouraged innovative approaches to addressing healthy food issues in these north Denver neighborhoods.

The Focus Points Family Resource Center will use grant funding to develop a new microfood business support center for Globeville, Elyria-Swansea food businesses and entrepreneurs. The center will provide community-driven programs to assist persons with starting up or expanding food-based microbusinesses in the surrounding areas. Training will target specific community food business needs, such as credit building, banking services, insurance, taxes, product testing, and other topics.

Funding to The GrowHaus supports the launch of a door-to-door promotora (community health worker) program, to educate residents on healthy eating habits, cooking methods, and nutrition. Designed to boost consumption of fresh foods, the grant is targeted to provide outreach classes and education to at least 300 residents.

“Access to fresh and nutritious foods is a key component to building vibrant communities,” said OED Executive Director Paul Washington. “We’re excited to fund these innovative, new programs in Globeville and Elyria-Swansea, as part of our ongoing efforts to develop additional food retail options for local residents.”

The OED is continuing to work to boost fresh food access through the Healthy Food Challenge. With support from the Colorado Fresh Food Financing Fund (CO4F), Colorado Enterprise Fund, the Colorado Department of Transportation through its I-70 East Project, and other partners, the Challenge is offering a combined loan opportunity of $1 million to support new retail. Pre-applications for loans are being accepted through September 1, 2016.

Augmenting these loan funds is a balance of approximately $100,000 in grant funds to support new fresh food retail. All grant funds offered are provided through federal Community Development Block Grant funding.

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.