DIG IN! with Nourish Colorado – June 2024

Dear Partners, 

As summer unfolds, we are excited to share the latest news and achievements from our dedicated team efforts to build a more equitable food system in this issue of Dig In! This issue covers a season that has been filled with impactful events, innovative programs, and collaborations that are driving change in our community.

From hosting educational pop-ups and inaugural Nutrition Education partner convenings, to continuing to advocate for sustainable food policies at the state and federal level, engaging students in recipe creation, and completing of the third year of The Local Food Program, our team has been working diligently to build access to fresh, local food.

Thank you for your support and commitment to our mission. We hope that as you read this, you recognize the contributions of the hundreds of partners involved and see your own impact reflected in this work! Together, we are making a significant difference and creating a healthier, more equitable future for all.

We have a lot to cover in this quarterly issue, so get comfortable and Dig In!

In partnership,

The Nourish Colorado Team 

Nutrition Education

The Nutrition Education team hosted our first in-person satellite partner convening in the Denver Metro area, where we convened our partners from around the state for collaboration, learning, and skill-sharing. We also hosted colleagues from USDA’s Food and Nutrition Services for a Management Evaluation to support us with fiscal and program integrity, in which we visited partners to observe direct education and policy, systems, and environment (PSE) programming. We hosted a pop-up at Community Table Arvada to highlight how pantry items can be used to make healthy affordable meals, and handed out educational food skills flyers and materials. We also hosted a pop-up at Hunger Free Colorado’s Hike to End Hunger, where we featured a sugar shocker activity and make-your-own healthy trail mix to emphasize unit pricing and label reading. We are continuing to add on new Train-the-Trainer partners in the Denver Metro region that will be hosting Cooking Matters classes and implementing PSE changes.

Nutrition Incentives

New Double Up Food Bucks Regional Community Food Navigators & Equity Mapping

Over the past six months, Double Up Food Bucks transitioned to a new place-based outreach model for connecting with community and recruiting new retailers. Internal equity mapping guided our change, identifying areas with the highest potential for growth and the greatest need for food access programs. Primarily, these areas are on the state’s periphery, with Eastern Colorado showing the highest need, along with the Western Slope and rural mountain regions. Partnering with community-based organizations in these low-income, low-access areas allows us to build relationships with regional food justice champions while sharing power and providing funding to sustain their valuable work. This collaboration helps us connect with more SNAP shoppers, build trust, and create a feedback loop to inform our programming.

We are thrilled to announce partnerships with three community-based organizations in our identified areas: Kids at Their Best in Northeast Colorado, Small Town Project in Southeast Colorado, and Community Food Bank of Grand Junction on the Western Slope. These organizations will support the implementation and promotion of Double Up Food Bucks in new stores, including Asian Market in Grand Junction, Walsh Community Grocery in Walsh, and Knapp’s Farm Market in Rocky Ford. Additionally, we are actively recruiting new retailers in Northeast Colorado, and we moved to a rolling application for onboarding new stores across the state. You can find the most up to date participating locations by visiting Where’s it at? section of our website.

Know of a store that would be a great Double Up Food Bucks partner? We’d love to hear from them via our interest form!

Healthy Food in Institutions

Local Food Program Year 3 Complete!

We’ve wrapped up our third year of the Local Food Program, supporting 31 districts across the state, benefiting 127,000 students. From connecting local food hubs and producers to enhancing staff skills with Knife Skills Training, our team works diligently to make farm-to-school the norm state-wide! Rebecca, our Local Food Program Manager, crafted three insightful infographics showcasing our achievements this year. Explore them herehere, and here! (For a detailed update on the program, click here).

School Food and Birria Ramen?!!?

In April, Chef Taylor embarked on a culinary adventure with Victory Prep Academy in Commerce City, CO, inspired by students’ lunchtime cravings for ramen. The kitchen team, initially hesitant, faced the challenge of developing a new recipe. Drawing on their personal connection to the Mexican stew Birria, Chef Taylor and the team decided to blend its flavors with traditional ramen. Through their collaborative efforts, they created a unique Birria Ramen recipe, delighting taste buds and satisfying the students’ cravings.

Empowering Local Food: USDA’s New Standards

This month marked a significant milestone as the USDA finalized new Child Nutrition Standards, effective from July onwards. Among the revisions is the inclusion of “locally grown”, “locally raised”, or “locally caught” as requirements for fresh and minimally processed food items in child nutrition programs. Prior to this change, districts had to utilize geographic preference rather than specifically using the word local as a requirement when scoring bids. This pivotal change simplifies the process for programs to prioritize locally sourced ingredients, promoting community engagement and supporting local economies.

Summer of Conferences for Healthy Food in Institutions

We recently took part in the Colorado School Nutrition Association (CSNA) conference in Loveland, CO. With a packed schedule, we led 4 sessions, two of which included hands-on Knife Skills training. Expanding our reach, this year we are also presenting at the Annual School Nutrition Conference (ANC) in Boston, MA. We will further discuss best practices in institutional settings, using the Colorado Local Food Program Guidebook as our focal point. We’re so excited about presenting at ANC for the first time!

Farm and Food Policy

The 2024 state legislative session has ended (it was a doozy!) and the federal policy front is finally moving forward! You can read our lobbyist’s summary of food & farm issues in the state legislative session here.

Here in Colorado, Nourish spent the last few months focusing on our three state legislative priorities: 1. the Healthy Food Incentive Program, 2. Time to Eat, and 3. the Local Food Program.

1.    The Healthy Food Incentive Program bill (HB24-1416) successfully passed to change the Healthy Food Incentive Fund (HFIF) into the Healthy Food Incentive Program (HFIP). Now that it’s a program, we hope to see improved public understanding of how the funds are used and why the program is so important. Unfortunately, the Joint Budget Committee bill only funded the HFIP with $500,000 this year due to a very limited state budget. However, we are excited that the HFIP has become an official program and look forward to advocating for increased program funds in the future!

2.    The Time to Eat bill (HB24-1301) did not pass this legislative session, due to a late start and multiple delays, the cost of the bill (even though very minor) given general fund constraints, and some late opposition. Even though this bill did not pass, we are still committed to the concept of ensuring students have enough time to eat and will continue to work on this in other ways. Nourish Colorado and Colorado Blueprint to End Hunger will be creating our own opportunities to find best practices and policies around making sure students have enough time to eat.

3.    The Local Food Program faced major hardships this session, but we are thankful that our team worked very hard to ensure the pilot program was at least sustained for one more year. As a reminder, the Local Food Program (LFP) has been a pilot program for three years. The Healthy School Meals for All (HSMA) ballot measure set LFP up to be expanded statewide by August 2024. Due to the HSMA funding shortfall, the Joint Budget Committee (HB24-1390)decided to indefinitely pause all three HSMA grant programs (including LFP incentives and training/technical assistance). While this is a huge burden on all stakeholders counting on and working towards the expanded LFP, we were at least somewhat successful by advocating for and securing one more year of the pilot LFP. You can read more about LFP in this three-part blog and newsletter series!

On the federal policy level, Nourish is recently most engaged around the farm bill again! The Senate Agriculture Committee Chair, Senator Stabenow, released her farm bill proposal, the Rural Prosperity and Food Security Act, on May 1st. The House Agriculture Committee Chair, Representative GT Thompson, has also released his farm bill mark, the Farm, Food, and National Security Act of 2024. This bill text was marked up (amended) in the House Agriculture Committee and passed the Committee on May 24th. This is exciting news because it means that Congress is starting to work on negotiating a bipartisan farm bill! However, due to the glaring issues in the House farm bill (especially that it cuts future SNAP dollars by setting a future limitation on SNAP that would “save” $30 billion over ten years through prohibiting future updates to the Thrifty Food Plan), we are still unsure if Congress will be able to successfully pass a farm bill this year.

You can read Nourish’s comparison of the two bills here. We strongly support the Senate version of the farm bill and would love to see our Members of Congress fight for these provisions to be kept in the final bill. We will continue to advocate for an equitable farm bill that supports our local food systems and protects SNAP dollars as the Senate and House Agriculture Committees continue to negotiate!

Supporter Spotlight

We’re thrilled to announce that Nourish Colorado has been chosen as the Green Collective Eatery’s Local Blend of the Month! Thanks to the nomination by Katrina Darling Friedman, MS, RDN, CDN, and her crafted signature smoothie for June, for every Cherry Kat smoothie sold at both Denver-metro locations, $1 will be donated to support our mission. Here’s why Katrina chose Nourish Colorado: 

“I chose Nourish Colorado for the nonprofit partner of the month because as a dietitian, I believe everyone should have access to fresh, delicious food. To be completely honest, this cause wasn’t top of mind for me until I experienced food insecurity myself as I was doing my dietetic internship. If you aren’t familiar with the dietetic internship, it is a very competitive and rigorous clinical supervised practice experience that is required before anyone can sit for the national RD board exam. It is full-time for 10-12 months, costs a minimum of $10k (for most programs), and is completely unpaid. During this time I received SNAP benefits which helped tremendously with my ability to gain access to food each month. Without SNAP, I don’t really know what I would have done. I have also hated food waste for as long as I can remember, but hate it even MORE now because I know it is a resource that a lot of people don’t have equal access to.”

Katrina Darling Friedman MS, RDN, CDN is a registered dietitian, functional nutritionist, and women’s health specialist. Her mission is to guide you from overwhelm to ease and empower you with a better understanding of your body and your own nutrition needs to help you reconnect with your body, transform your life, and optimize your fertility with targeted nutrition, lifestyle, and supplement therapies. To learn more about Katrina & KMD Nutrition, check out her website and Instagram.

Sustaining Roots: Monthly Giving Program

At Nourish Colorado, we’re dedicated to creating a more equitable, sustainable food system for all. We believe everyone deserves access to fresh, local food, and your support makes this vision possible.

We’re inviting you to join our new Sustaining Roots: Monthly Giving for a Nourishing Future program. By becoming a recurring donor, you ensure our initiatives and advocacy work remain impactful.

Joining Sustaining Roots is easy and convenient, plus you’ll receive exclusive communications and benefits at every giving level – simply visit https://nourishcolorado.org/donate/ and make a recurring gift today!


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