Dig in! With Nourish Colorado – March Newsletter

Dear Partner,   Welcome to March! It came in like a lamb, and now is roaring like a lion – and we welcome more moisture for our soils and our plants. There is a German word that means something to the effect of “to enjoy the fine weather while also being anxious about climate change.” That one word seems to sum up the beginning of March.    In our March edition, you will hear more about what is happening in the policy realm – federal COVID relief! State legislative session! The resurrection of our Food Bill Action Team! You will also find updates on upcoming culinary trainings and local procurement efforts, and we say thank-you to one of our founders, The Colorado Health Foundation. This month we wrapped up our winter webinar series of special guest panelists engaging in the issues we work on and care about – healthy food incentives, healthy food in institutions, and healthy food systems policy. Check out the full series here and share out with your networks.    It is also Women’s History Month! To all of the womxn across the land who have for centuries used food to nourish, restore, and strengthen those around them – we celebrate these healers, medicine womxn, and witches! 
HEALTHY FOOD INCENTIVES
Join us for Hunger Action Week! A statewide survey conducted in December by Hunger Free Colorado found that almost 2 in 5 (38 percent) of Coloradans are food insecure, meaning they lack reliable access to nutritious food. This is the highest rate reported since the start of COVID-19 and more than two times what Colorado experienced during the Great Recession. It is time for our legislators to respond! Join us to advocate for our communities! Registration and full agenda here
Produce Box Program 2020 Results The Colorado Nutrition Incentive Program (CNIP), typically referred to as the WIC/Older Adult produce box program, provides weekly produce boxes to participants of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children as well as for participants in the Older Adult Congregate Meal Program. Thanks to our evaluator, CSU PhD student Pratyoosh Kashyap, we have a final CNIP evaluation report on the 2020 season. View the full report here and check out some highlights from the report below. With state funds, Nourish Colorado purchased $493,000 of produce boxes.  Through local partners, these were distributed to at least 1,200 households (WIC and older adult). Each WIC household includes on average 4-5 people, and adult households typically have 1-2 members. The program was offered in 23 counties. 41 different growers or food hubs provided food boxes through their CSA shares. 91% of WIC participants reported that the food boxes increased their food security; 84% reported a moderate or significant increase in daily produce consumption.  81% of older adult participants reported that the food boxes increased their food security; 56% reported a moderate to significant increase in daily produce consumption.
Economic Impact Policy Briefs For more than a decade, healthy food incentive programs have increased the purchasing power of households experiencing low incomes to buy fruits and vegetables at grocery stores and farmers markets, thereby helping to reduce hunger, improve nutrition, and support U.S. agriculture and retail. Check out these policy briefs created by our very own CSU along with other national partners on the economic impact of expanding healthy food incentives across Colorado and the United States as a whole. 
HEALTHY FOOD IN INSTITUTIONS
Local Procurement Colorado (LoProCO)  We cannot believe it is March already! Our monthly calls are off and rolling with our next one scheduled for April 27th at 2pm. These calls are open to school food service staff, farmers, local partners, and more, so please join us and share the calls with your networks! The topic will highlight farm-to-school happenings around our state with our culinary demo featuring mushrooms, onions, and barley. You can register here. Our previous calls will all be available on our YouTube channel and if you would like any of the recipes we prepared, please email fernando@nourishcolorado.org for a copy. We are also diving back into the planning, recruitment, and session development for our in-person LoProCO Workshop Series (1.0, 2.0, 3.0). Southeast Colorado is the region we are focusing on, and we plan to launch the series Winter 2021. Active recruitment begins in May and we are looking at late-November/early December for 1.0, late-January/early February for 2.0, and early December 2022 for 3.0. We are very excited for this expanded model as it gives us an opportunity to dive deeper and create tangible next steps, while developing new sessions specific to our different audiences. Culinary Trainings We’re doing it again! Our partnership with Cooking Matters and CDPHE is back and we’re happy to do the culinary session for their Early Care & Education (ECE) trainings. We’ve completed two trainings so far and there are three more coming up in the next few months. They happen on Saturday mornings which makes it accessible for folks to attend. If you’re an ECE provider and would like to learn more, check out this website! In addition, we’re planning to host more virtual Knife Skills trainings with our friends at CDE and CDPHE, stay tuned!  
HEALTHY FOOD SYSTEMS POLICY
Policy Heats Up! The Colorado Legislature is in full swing and Congress has passed a $1.9 trillion COVID relief package that includes significant funding for debt relief and aid to farmers and ranchers of color and military veterans. In Colorado, the Joint Budget Committee is closing in on finalizing the budget, which we hope will contain an additional $300,000 in the Healthy Food Incentive Fund, for a total of $500,000 to support Double Up Food Bucks and the Produce Box Program for participants in the Women, Infant, Children (WIC) program as well as seniors in the Congregate Care program. The legislature is also working on several bills we are supporting including HB21-1105 that, if amended as we hope, will provide a significant boost in benefits to SNAP households, SB21-087 that guarantees rights to farmworkers and which just cleared its first committee hurdle last Wednesday, and some upcoming immigration bills. Nourish continues to work with a large coalition convened by the Blueprint to End Hunger to promote farm and food priorities within the COVID funding that will be arriving in Colorado, as well as noting the farm and food access provisions in the American Rescue Plan recently signed by President Biden. Finally, it appears that six years after the deadline, Congress may finally get around to reauthorizing child nutrition, including school meal programs, Farm to School, and WIC. For more information, check out our policy blog and keep your eyes on this space to see how these issues are progressing.
Join our Food Bill Action Team!  Interested in talking and acting on food systems policy issues? Nourish Colorado is resurrecting the Food Bill Action Team (FBAT) – lovingly pronounced “fuh-bat,” and formerly known as the Farm Bill Action Team. Please read here for FAQs about FBAT! Leading up to Farm Bill 2018, FBAT met virtually for a half hour, twice a month over lunchtime to share, discuss, and mobilize around critical food systems issues that are important to us in Colorado. There is so much to be engaged in now! We are in the middle of our state legislative session, we are getting ready to implement items from federal COVID relief package, Child Nutrition Reauthorization is coming fast, and yes, soon we will even start preparing for Farm Bill 2023!  FBAT is now meeting twice per month, on the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of the month from 12pm to 12:30pm. Join us for lunch! We will always cancel if there is not enough to discuss. Can’t lobby or do direct advocacy work? No worries! These calls should be informative for anyone interested. If you would like to get on our FBAT list and participate in these calls, please fill out this simple form to let us know more about you, your gifts, your interests, etc.! We intend to use this space to share timely updates, field questions, connect interested parties, and assess the many skills and assets and connections you all have with policy makers. To learn more and connect, contact Wendy at wendy@nourishcolorado.org
FOOD SYSTEMS CHANGEMAKERS
March Funder Spotlight The Colorado Health Foundation    In March, we recognize a long-term funder and supporter that has played a critical role in Nourish Colorado’s history. The Colorado Health Foundation partnered with Kaiser Permanente and the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment to launch LiveWell Colorado in 2009. Funding from The Colorado Health Foundation supported key early initiatives like the LiveWell Community coalitions throughout the state as well as the School Food Initiative that was designed to reform nutrition in school lunchrooms. The Colorado Health Foundation has also been an irreplaceable partner as LiveWell Colorado transitioned to Nourish Colorado in 2020 to reflect our evolution into an organization transforming food systems. The Colorado Health Foundation believes that health is a basic human right and an equitable food system is an important piece of that mission. The Colorado Health Foundation supported the establishment of the Blueprint to End Hunger to ensure that all Coloradans have access to affordable and healthy food in their communities. 
Opportunities & Resources We keep an updated events calendar on our website to host the incredible meetings and events happening in the food systems space that we are aware of. We promote both Nourish events and partner event opportunities. We also update our job board with Nourish opportunities like our current Value Chain Coordinator position, as well as partner career opportunities. Please submit any upcoming events and details or open job opportunities you’d like to share to Amber Clemetson. Let’s Dig In! Together to Transform the Food System Thank you for digging in with us again this month, and we hope you continue to read our newsletter each month! If you haven’t 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. To help support our work, we most respectfully ask that you contribute whatever you can, whenever you can, to help us in these endeavors. For every part you play in transforming the food system, we appreciate you!
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