Local Food Program (LFP) Updates

Today, we are focusing on what ended up being one of our top priorities in the 2024 legislative session – the protection and maintenance of the state’s Local Food Program (LFP) as a core aspect of Healthy School Meals for All (HSMA). 

Status of the Local Food Program

As you likely have heard, the cost for implementing HSMA far exceeded its budgetary projections and revenue, primarily due to very strong school meal participation rates. The state legislature identified funds to keep universal meals funded for this current year and next. Unfortunately, due to lack of funding, the future of a statewide LFP as part of HSMA is uncertain, despite the core components of LFP being what voters valued the most – support for school kitchens, fresh foods in school meals, purchasing local foods, driving dollars to local economies. The loss of this infusion of funds is also significantly felt by the farmers, ranchers, and food hubs across the state that had been planning for new and sustainable ways to provide quality products to their local schools. 

A Win for the Local Food Program

Nourish Colorado worked tirelessly with state legislators throughout the session to elevate the importance of LFP to schools, students, communities, and farmers. This work paid off at the very last hour, with the current LFP pilot being extended for one more year, while the full program is set to be subject to available appropriations only.

Origins of the Local Food Program

The current LFP pilot was created through the Nourish Colorado-led HB19-1132. This bill created a multi-year program within the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) to provide both 1. direct cash incentives to schools to cover the costs of purchasing Colorado products and 2. the necessary training and technical assistance for schools and growers to be able to work more seamlessly together in procurement and meal planning. Since its inception, the Nourish Colorado team (chefs, dietitians, and agricultural partners) has been contracted by CDE to provide this training and technical assistance to schools and growers. See here for a flow chart of how this team and program operates.

The original pilot concludes this summer, with one more year now funded by the state legislature. Read more about the partnerships that came together to create and implement the LFP in our case study here

What’s next…..In June, we will be sharing much more information about the impacts of this small-but-mighty LFP program for schools, students, and agricultural communities. Stay tuned! 


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