|Dear readers, |
The abundance of Colorado farms is upon us! Our Summer newsletter highlights the fresh and local produce being made available in all corners of the state through initiatives such as Double Up Food Bucks, the WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program, and more.
We at Nourish relish this time of year, visiting old and new friends at farms, markets, and community organizations from Carbondale to Crestone to Cortez! We feel so much gratitude for this work and our growing team that makes it all possible. Meet our new Community Food Navigators and staff below!
Since our rebranding last year, we have continually worked through our new mission, vision, and values. We are happy to announce that we have officially adopted these statements. Our mission is to strengthen connections between farms and communities so that all Coloradans have equitable access to fresh, nutritious foods. Our vision is for fresh and local foods to enrich the health and vibrancy of all Colorado communities. We feature these along with our values on our About Us webpage. Help hold us accountable to these commitments by providing feedback here.
It takes the passion and commitment of hundreds of partners to make any of our work connect with Coloradans across the state. To the growers, county staff, and community champions who fuel this work every day – thanks for all you do! We hope each of you is enjoying Colorado’s mid-Summer produce and finding time to enjoy some Summer fun.
– The Nourish Team
HEALTHY FOOD INCENTIVES
Double Up Food Bucks
Summer is underway for Double Up Food Bucks, and farmers market season is in full swing! Avoid empty grocery shelves and questionable supply chains by supporting Double Up at your local farmers market! Your support breathes life, love, and financial investment into our local economy. Involvement at farmers markets is also valuable to potential Double Up partners, funders, and participants. With our largest Double Up participation to date, we must continue to spread the word about Double Up and support Double Up partners. Find a participating Double Up market or retailer near your neighborhood here.
Celebrate National Farmers Market Week (August 7-13) by sharing your love of local food and community at Colorado farmers markets. Bring someone that has never been to, thought they couldn’t afford to go to or felt unwelcomed at a farmers market before to a participating Double Up Market. Show them the beauty of locally produced fruits and veggies and allow Double Up to give the gift of affordability and access. For more information on the Double Up program, contact Lonni@NourishColorado.org.
This season we welcome four new Community Food Navigators to the Double Up team! Jorge Campana Paez of Adams County, Koralia De Lara of Pueblo County, Lizbett Mercado of Pueblo County, and Antonio Rangel of Jefferson County will partner with community members as well as local and statewide partners to support the Double Up program through outreach and engagement efforts. Safe and Abundant Nutrition Alliance (SANA) in the Roaring Fork Valley region has also contracted with us to join our program outreach this season! To connect about outreach opportunities, contact Caitlin@NourishColorado.org and order free promotional materials here.
Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP)
The Farmers Market Nutrition Program provides WIC participants vouchers to purchase fresh, locally grown fruits, vegetables, and cut herbs from authorized farmers markets. Our partnering farmers markets and vendors should expect to start receiving WIC vouchers for fresh produce by the end of this month. We have 16 participating farmers markets and many vendors within those markets accepting vouchers to support participating families. We are working closely with market managers, vendors, WIC agencies, state partners, and local stakeholders to strengthen training materials and market redemption rates to enhance this program further. For more information, contact Rakia@NourishColorado.org.
WIC and Older Adult Produce Boxes
The Colorado Nutrition Incentive Program (CNIP), known as the WIC and Older Adult produce box program, has grown tremendously in recent years. We are now working with over 50 agencies across the state that serve WIC clients and older adults to improve their nutrition security. This program has already begun in many counties from Baca to Routt to Garfield, Montezuma, and Broomfield to many places in between! participants receive boxes of fresh, locally grown produce every week to support their households. Ongoing monitoring and evaluation will help us understand barriers and improve this program for future years. We are currently equitably allocating funds to various partners based on our varying grants and ensuring that all agencies and farmers are set up for distribution. For more information, contact Rakia@NourishColorado.org.
HEALTHY FOOD IN INSTITUTIONS
Local Procurement Colorado (LoProCO) and Culinary Trainings
Chef Taylor and Chef Jess are busy traveling the state in July and August, providing meal quality trainings to school districts in partnership with our Department of Education. Along with these trainings, we are diving deep into year two of the Local Food Program with info-gathering on the new participating providers and our returning providers. Travel plans are in the works as we look to support these providers with their farm-to-school efforts during the first half of the school year. We are also very close to launching our Local Food Program marketing toolkit that was developed in partnership with a group of college students from DU who were a part of the Pioneer Leadership Program. We cannot wait!
Another fun update comes from our LoProCO workshop series in Southeast CO. Local growers in Baca county grew zucchini to be processed for three school districts in the county, and the processing days are happening soon! Chef Jess will join the event on Saturday, July 30, in Springfield, CO, where we will shred and freeze the zucchini for use during the school year! We are slated to hold our LoProCO 2.0 on November 4. We will be hitting the ground running come August and September to spread the word and craft another fun gathering for those interested in supporting and building their farm-to-school/institution programs and market channels
Along with this work, Chef Jess has been involved in a plant-based protein project with Healthcare Without Harm. She helped to develop “Fiesta Beans,” a value-added refried bean product that uses locally-grown pinto beans and wild-fermented sriracha from a women-owned and operated business. These beans will be featured at a free event on August 8 sponsored by the CO Dept of Agriculture in partnership with the Hispanic Restaurant Association. Check it out and RSVP here! For more information, contact Jessica@NourishColorado.org.
HEALTHY FOOD SYSTEMS POLICY
State Policy Roundup
We are so excited for the Colorado communities that will benefit from the new investment and support provided through HB22-1380, Critical Services for Low-Income Households, signed into law by Governor Polis on June 3.
We wish to extend our hearty thanks to our partners on this bill – Blueprint to End Hunger, Healthier Colorado, and many others from across the state – to the Colorado Department of Agriculture for their support, the fabulous partners who provided quotes and testimony, and to the bill sponsors who led this through the legislative process so seamlessly: Representatives Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez and Rod Pelton and Senators Jeff Bridges and Don Coram. And of course, many thanks to our partners Emma and Tonette at the lobbying firm S360 for shepherding this forward!
This law directs $14 million in federal pandemic relief funds to save people money on healthy food and increase critical services for low-income individuals. It invests $8 million to support small food retailers and farmers to ensure underserved communities have access to healthy, fresh foods through a consortium and grant program. This law will help small food retailers and grocery stores with technical assistance and one-time grants of up to $25,000 to strengthen Colorado’s food value chain.
The law also directs $2 million in federal relief funds to efficiently identify SNAP recipients who are also eligible for utility bill assistance; $3 million for a universal management system to reduce administrative costs and streamline the application process for various benefit programs; and lastly – one bit that we are particularly fond of at Nourish – it directs $1 million to the Colorado Department of Human Services to support technology upgrades and integrate the Double Up Food Bucks Program on to the EBT card, increasing access to healthy foods for SNAP recipients.
Farm Bill Discussion Series: If you missed the three-part Farm Bill 2023 Discussion Series we co-hosted, never fear! All sessions were recorded! If you are interested in receiving the recordings on Farm Bill 101, tips for working with our federal delegation, and the nitty-gritty of hosting site visits with your congresspeople, email Wendy, and she can send you all the resources!
Nourish’s Law & Policy Roadmap: Come plan the next steps with us
With the leadership of a legal intern, Nourish Colorado completed a 130-page (!) “Law and Policy Roadmap” that dives deep into seven legal objectives we think are critical to achieving our vision. Here is a summary. We will host a series of 90-minute discussion-oriented webinars in August and September to address five of these seven objectives. For brief descriptions, please click here and stay tuned for more event details!
For any policy comments or questions, contact Wendy@NourishColorado.org.
FOOD SYSTEMS CHANGEMAKERS
This Summer, we are excited to welcome four new team members to Nourish Colorado. Connect with Rakia Ranney, Nutrition Programs Specialist, Caitlin Stuart, Community Engagement & Navigator Manager, Daysi Sweaney, Director of Healthy Food Incentives, and Laurel Smith, Value Chain Coordinator!
Rakia brings years of experience working as a public health dietitian to her role as Nutrition Programs Specialist. She has worked closely with food access programs and food policy measures and is excited to improve our community by building partnerships and strengthening our food system. She enjoys all things Colorado, including skiing, mountain biking, climbing, rafting, circus and movement arts, making music, gardening, and fostering kittens.
As a long-time small business owner, Caitlin fostered a much-needed career change during the COVID-19 pandemic, delving into food systems advocacy and volunteering in her community. In addition to her role at Nourish, Caitlin is a parent CNA caregiver to her two children and enjoys quiet evening strolls with her husband, hiking, kayaking, vermicomposting, music, disability advocacy and activism, and spending time in Colorado’s diverse landscapes. A data, political science, and policy nerd with a penchant for rolling up her sleeves to problem solve, Caitlin is passionate about building a longer table with the community through listening and action
Daysi is an immigrant from Peru who calls Colorado her home. She has dedicated her career to working for her community and improving equitable access to food and resources for those who are underserved and marginalized. She believes food is a human right, and everyone should have access to fresh and nutritious food, no matter their race, social, economic, or legal status. She is committed to contributing to positive changes, reducing access barriers and elevating the voices of everyone we serve. She is grateful to be part of Nourish and excited to be part of the mission. In her free time, she likes to spend time with her family, explore the outdoors and be her kid’s chauffeur, chef, teacher, entertainer, etc.
Laurel is excited to utilize her background in farming and community organizing as Value Chain Coordinator. She will serve the Double Up Food Bucks program by supporting grocers and corner stores to offer Colorado-grown produce consistently. Laurel’s passion for localizing our food system for economic, social, and environmental benefit comes from over ten years of farming vegetables in this unique state. After five years as Garden Director for twenty school gardens across Boulder County, Laurel is anxious to broaden her impact in service of Nourish Colorado’s statewide mission. In her free time, she enjoys exploring the mountains with her partner or caring for neo-hybrid hazelnuts and other perennial crops at her farm in Wellington.
Events & Resources
We are thrilled to have partnered with the talented and passionate Masters of the Environment (MENV) students again this year through our Root Down, Rise Up with MENV blog series!
Our job board is full of partner career and other opportunities open now. Please check out current happenings and submit any upcoming events or career opportunities you would like to share with us to Jesse Hulling.
Let’s Dig In! Together to Transform the Food System
If you want to work with us to bring these programs and policy changes to more people across Colorado, here is more information on how to support our work. Thank you for digging in with us again this month, and we hope you continue to read our newsletter each month! If you have not already, please subscribe. We are working to sustain – and grow – our initiatives across the state and to do the advocacy we know must be done to make these efforts the norm. For every part you play in transforming the food system, we appreciate you!
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