The Healthy Food for Denver’s Kids (HFDK) Commission awarded $5,961,555 in grant funding to feed Denver’s children and provide education about food and nutrition. The funds were distributed through HFDK’s first round of competitive grants to non-profits and local government agencies, including DPS, who lead community-based food programs. The Commission requested proposals on how to best improve children’s access to healthy foods and food-based education and skills, such as cooking and gardening (request for proposal details).
The 25 organizations that were awarded funds include: 16 non-profits, eight schools or affiliates of Denver Public Schools, and one city agency, Denver Public Library. Projects include providing healthy food to youth through school food pantries, snack programs, and no cost grocery distribution. Organizations are also educating and empowering youth through food justice curriculum, cooking classes, and building and teaching in school gardens, greenhouses, and hydroponic classrooms. Projects will take place across the entire city, impacting approximately 129,500 Denver youth. See below for a summary of all the projects.
“The North H.S. is very excited to be able to explore, research, educate and positively influence the students and community by creating healthy, sustainable food choices to better the future of our vibrant community.” -Kellie Cassity, North High School
“Receiving the HFDK grant means that we will be able to provide a local teen with their first positive and supportive employment experience, distribute healthy snacks in our area by helping families and youth from diverse backgrounds and economic levels address day to day food insecurities and lack of access to healthy alternatives. There are very few employment opportunities for youth in this current economic downturn so offering a paid position to a local teen allows us to help the community with a very real need and also gain local trust, buy-in and street credibility as a library system. We are actively addressing the needs of our community on multiple levels and we couldn't be happier to be part of this partnership with HFDK!” -Larry, Senior Librarian at the Montbello Branch Library
“By receiving the HFDK funds, the Denver Public Schools Career and College Success team has a critical opportunity to build a hydroponic farm that addresses problems of poverty, food insecurity and diet-related diseases with our middle and high school students. Students will learn invaluable first-hand lessons including STEM education, how to overcome food inequities through urban agriculture and developing confidence to advocate for food justice in their own communities.” -Traci Sanchez, CTE Career Pathways
“DSISD is overwhelmed with happiness due the HFDK grant funds that will enable our students to learn and experience how physical education, nutrition, and healthy food choices are all interrelated, while empowering them to lead and teach other students in our school the lessons that they learned. This idea stemmed from a dream of our students who presented their idea to DSISD administration during the 2018-2019 school year. Now we have been given the privilege to bring this dream into reality!!!” -Evelyn Cruz, Denver School of Innovation and Sustainable Design
“Due to the COVID pandemic many South High families are struggling financially and find it increasingly difficult to feed their children. Thanks to the HFDK grants we can provide our students and their families with a reliable, weekly source of healthy, nutritious food. We are grateful to the City of Denver for making this possible.” -Greg Thielen, Denver South High School Food Pantry
“The HFDK grant provides DUG with the opportunity to scale our work at a time when it is most needed; this will allow us to align all of our youth education programs to focus on a 'whole-child approach' for better access to resources and opportunities for Denver kids. Food Security, Healthy Bodies, Healthy Gardens, Community, and Essential Skills will all be covered under this work.” -Violeta Garcia, Denver Urban Gardens
“The grants from HFDK were timely and valuable. Food for Thought Denver stepped up to our responsibility during the COVID-19 crisis and timely grants from HFDK gave us the confidence to keep increasing our reach to make sure that no child is left hungry over the weekend. It is also allowing us to think creatively for Fall 2020. Thank you for your timely help.” -Nirav Shah, Food for Thought
“These funds mean a lot to Metro Caring’s community, as they will help support our hardworking staff, community leaders, and community members. This opportunity will also allow us to expand and improve our evaluation and data collection methods to improve our services in the long term. We couldn't do this work without HFDK.” - Sheena Kadi, Metro Caring
“Mile High 360 is thrilled to receive the HFDK funds to make our nutritional education truly robust and enticing for our students. It will be exciting to see families learn to cook and make healthy meals and snacks together, all while staying true to their cultural heritage and authentic cuisine. The native-Mexican trained chef and nutritionist is a welcome addition to our nutritional programming.” -Natalie A. Martinez, Mile High 360
“Our FreshLo Partners are thrilled to have the support of HFDK as we work to improve the health outcomes of children and youth in our community. The fact that the Denver community came together to create a funding mechanism to ensure that all kids can get the healthy food that will nourish their mind, body, and spirit is heartening. COVID-19 has underscored the importance of everyone - from our very youngest residents to the oldest -- knowing how to eat better and to even grow the food that we need to be healthy and strong. Our children are leading the way in this movement.” -Donna Garnett, Montbello Organizing Committee
"Whether it is sharing a meal with loved ones, or learning to cook a recipe that has been in your family for generations, food is one of the greatest connectors. However, food insecurity is one of the largest issues our community faces. We are thrilled to be part of Healthy Food for Denver Kids and to be able to use food as a lens for children in SW Denver to learn about health equity, food justice, and the local food system." -JoAnna Cintron, Re:Vision
“Support from HFDK will have an immense impact on The GrowHaus’ programming and the youth and families we serve at a critical time for our community. With food insecurity soaring and youth and families struggling in the face of COVID-19, broad-based support from HFDK means our programs and staff have the resources behind them to work alongside our community with grit, perseverance, and passion to improve food access and well-being.” -Nathan Mackenzie, The GrowHaus
“We are fortunate for the support from the HFDK Emergency Hunger Relief Grant. The Far Northeast (Montbello) is home to thousands of children, many of which fall below the federal poverty guidelines. Many of our enrolled families were already struggling financially and the pandemic has exacerbated their financial woes. Our team of volunteers have been thoughtful and dependable by ensuring that every child has a plate of food and a box of perishable and non-perishable items for each family. As the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases continues to rise in communities of economic hardship, specifically communities of color, this grant has gone a long way to support more than 320 families with food.” -Nathaniel Cradle, Venture for Success Prep
“Voter approval of the Healthy Food for Denver Kids could not have been more timely to have in place during COVID to meet the need of so many kids/families across our city who experience food insecurity. This became even more critical as people were laid off from work and couldn’t meet their household needs and were also not able to put food on the table for their children! Thank you Denver voters!!” -Councilwoman Debbie Ortega, At-Large
“Food insecurity has surged during the COVID-19 pandemic, our communities of color have been hit the hardest and the need for access to healthy food is more critical than ever. I was proud that this team was able to coalesce quickly to get funds out to the community during the stay-at-home order. This most recent distribution of funding is indicative of the seriousness that we took in ensuring organizations who are dedicated to food delivery to families had the funds they needed to respond to the crisis and to think creatively about what could be built to provide food well into the future.” -Councilwoman Jamie Torres, District 3
HFDK's support will allow Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver to expand our food services to youth who face food insecurity. By providing kids with additional daily meals and snacks throughout the summer and every weekend year-round, this partnership - assisted by Food Bank of the Rockies - will provide well over 100,000 healthy meals to Denver kids.
The HFDK funds will be used to provide nutritious meals on site and for delivery of food packages to youth impacted by violence and the criminal justice system in under resourced communities. Colorado Circles for Change is committed to feeding Denver's most vulnerable youth including youth of color, immigrants, and refuges.
In addition to Denver Food Rescue’s commitment to the mission of Producing Health Equity with Denver communities, we also assure all programs are culturally inclusive, volunteer driven and community specific. Denver Food Rescue is excited to pilot a new program called Self-sufficiency and Nutrition (SAN). The SAN program is designed to teach youth how to independently select and prepare meals utilizing healthy food.
The HFDK funds will be used to help increase student awareness around school and community polices on unhealthy/healthy eating, food availability, food culture and media, and personal health choices such as economics, neighborhood and education.
The HFDK grant will allow us to provide healthy snacks to our youth at several library locations. In addition, we will be hiring teen assistants from each of the communities where we will be distributing snacks.
The Denver Public Schools Career and College Success (CCS) team will use the HDFK funds to fill a gap in programs that focus on the Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources industries. They will partner with Teens for Food Justice (TFFJ), a New York City-based nonprofit, to create a student-built and operated classroom hydroponic farm at Bruce Randolph School. The hydroponic farm will ensure students recognize food justice and insecurity, understand health and nutrition, actively engage in STEM education and build a pathway to future income -- all while providing fresh and affordable produce to both students and their community through urban farming, food preparation and food preservation.
DPS will build a 1-acre greenhouse to grow salad bowl items for Denver students who participate in the school lunch program. When the greenhouse is financially and operationally sustainable, we will launch an urban agriculture Career and Technical Education (CTE) pathway for students and provide workforce development opportunities for students and adults.
The funding will be used to implement a nutrition education program embedded into the physical education curriculum and a Youth Food Leadership program in the school's elective. The program will incorporate a field trip to Sprout City Farms and a variety of community presenters with the goal of providing students with the opportunity to learn the interdependence of physical health, nutrition, and healthy choices, in addition to empowering students with leadership opportunities to teach about access to healthy food.
Denver South High School’s Food Pantry provides a consistent source of fresh, healthy food to meet the basic nutritional needs of its students and families so that no student goes to bed hungry due to lack of access to food. A top priority is providing fresh produce, dairy, meat and other protein, and culturally relevant food on a weekly basis.
Denver Urban Gardens (DUG) will be using the funds to expand our Healthy Seedlings program (currently serving Sun Valley, Montbello, and Elyria-Swansea) by activating educators to teach in an additional six Title 1 schools within DPS, while also continuing to provide services in three schools in the GES area. We’ll also be working to expand our Food Access programs by building local capacity for schools to run programs such as Youth Farm Stands and the Garden-to-Cafeteria program.
Working alongside youth and educators, Community Activators will be given tools to work with youth to engage in policy, food system, and community activism by connecting with local food justice experts and offering internship opportunities through Groundwork Denver, FrontLine Farming and Slow Food Denver. By building capacity in local communities, we will be shifting ownership and embedding programs into the fabric of the school so they can continue to deliver beyond the grant period.
Food for Thought (FFT) will provide PowerSacks to children in Title 1 schools in Denver to eliminate weekend childhood hunger. FFT will order food from Food Bank of the Rockies in order to provide enough food to feed two meals to a family of four. Each PowerSack includes between 9–13 nonperishable items, including foods that children can prepare themselves if no adult is able to cook.
Funds from HFDK will support Metro Caring’s Kidz in the Kitchen family nutrition education program, as well as direct food distribution to thousands of families throughout the next year. During this health and economic pandemic, when three times the normal number of families are in need of immediate food assistance, these funds will help families in our Denver community to access healthy, nutritious food relevant to their cultures and diets.
On a weekly basis, Metro Ministries, in partnership with Denver Housing Authority (DHA) and Colorado Feeding Kids (CFK), will visit each of the DHA properties that DHA has identified containing children in need of healthy and nutritional food. Metro Ministries will provide 2 CFK family meal packs for each identified child. In cooperation with DHA, the meals will be distributed onsite to the children.
Mile High 360 will use HFDK funds to truly formalize our nutritional educational programming and family engagement through cuisine with credentialed partners. We will also have a family liaison to work extensively with families on food security through the utilization of community and public resources.
The FreshLo Farm-School Network – Healthy Food for Montbello Kids project is a three-year collaborative impact project among several local schools and nonprofit organizations that have come together to address the shared mission to work with children and youth to grow food for their community, teach them where their food comes from, and work with families to change nutritional habits and consumption patterns. The FreshLo Farm-School Network – Healthy Food for Montbello Kids is premised on an assumption that multiple efforts must work in concert to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of community-level efforts to reduce food insecurity and ensure that children and their families have access to affordable, healthy food.
Re:Vision was founded in 2007, working in the Westwood neighborhood - one of Denver's most food insecure - to cultivate a community food system, primarily through teaching families how to grow their own food in their home gardens. With Healthy Food for Denver Kids, Re:Vision will work closely with community partners to create curriculum around food justice, health equity and the local food system, while using food as a lens to explore culture and promote discovery and emotional well-being for children in Southwest Denver.
Sprout City Farms is partnering with Denver Health to leverage the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and pediatric care network to couple food access solutions and healthy food education with medical care. We have established a program to offer fresh, organically grown food from local farms to refugee families enrolled in WIC, as well as pediatric patients screened for food insecurity, throughout the Colorado harvest season (June through October). Lowry Clinic is the most diverse clinic in Denver, and families will receive interpretation and translation of nutrition education materials in their preferred languages in addition to fresh produce each week.
HFDK funds will be used to provide a healthy snack to every student every day at school and to conduct activities in the garden related to health and nutrition education.
Strive Prep - SMART will work with Big Green to install a Learning Garden at our school to implement food literacy programs. SMART wants to increase students’ knowledge around healthy food choices and develop skills to grow, harvest, and cook those healthy foods. Students will have opportunities to learn health and nutrition information, practice skills, and share their learning through the Learning Garden curriculum.
The HFDK funds will provide support for our Youth Employment + Professional Development, Youth Enrichment, and No-Cost Grocery Programs. The funding will allow us to expand and deepen the impact and reach of each of those programs. The HFDK funds will also support the weeknight dinners we prepare and serve for youth in our Sun Valley neighborhood, in partnership with Sun Valley Youth Center.
Funding from HFDK will connect youth and their families in the Globeville and Elyria-Swansea neighborhoods to The GrowHaus’ food education, distribution, and community outreach programming. Programming includes food access initiatives that ensure kids have healthy food within reach, a summer leadership program for teens, out-of-school educational sessions for elementary-aged students, and multi-generational classes on nutrition, growing food, and wellness. Ultimately, HFDK funds support a holistic approach to healthy food access and well-being for kids and youth.
The Urban Grown Incubator Farm takes a three-pronged approach to promoting a resilient local food system in Denver by addressing workforce development, youth education, and fresh food access through urban agriculture. Urban Grown will utilize soil-based and hydroponic growing methods, allowing for healthy food production and education year-round.
We will be providing healthy food and snacks to our participating kids, as well as hands-on growing our own food, nutrition education, and healthy cooking for the family. All activities will be done in Spanish and English.
In partnership with Healthy Food for Denver’s Kids, We Don’t Waste is excited to offer healthy food and education to children through a variety of programs. This includes providing nutritious food through distribution to partner agencies that work with Denver’s youth and their families (including food distribution and recovery with schools) and sustaining/expanding We Don’t Waste’s monthly Mobile Food Markets (free farmers market-style distributions in food desert neighborhoods). We Don’t Waste will also offer nutrition and cooking education to families at these Mobile Food Markets and will partner with schools to provide nutrition and cooking education through classroom and experiential learning.
Denver West Campus Food Bank (WCFB)'s mission is to provide healthy food for the students and families of students attending West Early College (WEC) and West Leadership Academy (WLA), the two schools located on the West High Campus. West Campus Food Bank, developed to address food insecurity among West campus students, has been in operation since April 6, 2018 and has serviced over 200 students a week. WCFB is 100 % volunteer-operated.