From the Eastern Plains to the Western Slope, many Coloradans in our state lack access to fresh, healthy, affordable food.
These individuals may live in areas where there is a plethora of fast-food restaurants and convenience stores with menus and shelves void of fruits and vegetables. And, the closest grocery store is too far away to visit on a regular basis. Or, the local grocer may have a small supply of produce that is too expensive for a hardworking family that is already struggling to pay the rent and put any type of food on the table.
That is why LiveWell Colorado is thrilled our partner and funder, the Colorado Health Foundation, recently announced the launch of the Colorado Fresh Food Financing Fund (CO4F) to help address this issue.
Seeded with a generous $7.1 million investment from the Colorado Health Foundation, the initiative will enable food retailers in underserved communities throughout Colorado to provide fresh, healthy food. As a public-private partnership fund, CO4F will make financing available for grocers that offer affordable and nutritious foods in areas where healthy options are scarce.
The first of its kind in Colorado, this statewide fund was developed in response to recommendations from the Denver Food Access Task Force, in which LiveWell Colorado participates as a member. The Task Force, convened by Denver’s Department of Environmental Health, the Colorado Health Foundation, and The Food Trust, is comprised of leaders from the retail food industry, state and local government, public health, economic and community development sectors, and nonprofit foundations; its focus is to eliminate "food deserts" and increase access to grocery stores.
The new fund aims to remove financial barriers to the construction, expansion and renovation of grocery stores in underserved areas and is modeled after successful, national programs aligned with The Food Trust's Healthy Food Financing Initiative. More specifically, CO4F is designed to:
- Improve retail access to fresh and healthy foods in Colorado;
- Encourage economic development in low- to moderate-income neighborhoods;
- Provide attainable financing to food retail outlets that will promote better food access;
- Partner with local governments when possible to enhance the benefits and success; and,
- Develop a Colorado model based upon national best practices.
This is precisely the type of public-private collaboration necessary to ensure all Coloradans have access to healthy food. I applaud the Colorado Health Foundation’s leadership on this important effort to reverse obesity trends and encourage you to learn more about this initiative by visiting the CO4F website.