There were many wins for food systems in 2022, and some changes in our state and federal government that will impact our work moving forward. For an overview of 2022 November state and federal election results please read this summary from our lobbyists. Please note that since this was published, a mandatory recount confirmed Lauren Boebert as the winner in the federal Congressional District 3 race.
The Colorado State Legislature recently announced House and Senate committee assignments, available here. The federal committees have not yet been finalized.
During the 2022 state legislative session, Nourish Colorado, along with many others, worked to get HB22-1380, Critical Services for Low-Income Households, passed in the Colorado State Legislature. This law directs $8 million to support small food retailers, farmers, distributors, and consumers by creating a Community Food Access Program and a Small Food Business Recovery and Resilience Grant Program. The Community Food Access Program intends to increase healthy food access and decrease food prices by strengthening connections across the local food value chain, especially in low-income and underserved areas of the state, with the creation of a community food consortium. The Small Food Business Recovery and Resilience Grant Program provides technical assistance and one-time grants of up to $25,000 to help small retailers and grocers with the costs of operating, infrastructure, technical support, and equipment to offer nutrition benefit programs and make fresh, healthy food more accessible for communities in need. The law also invests $2 million in federal relief funds to efficiently identify SNAP recipients who are also eligible for utility bill assistance and $3 million for a universal management system to reduce administrative costs and streamline the application process for benefit programs. Finally, the law directs $1 million to the Colorado Department of Human Services to support technology upgrades and integrate the Double Up Food Bucks Program onto SNAP shoppers’ EBT cards.
The passing of Healthy School Meals for All through the ballot initiative FF is another huge, exciting milestone for food systems policy in Colorado! The Act provides not only free school meals to all students in public schools, but also grants for participating schools to provide an increase in wages or stipends for employees who prepare and serve school meals and additional funds to purchase Colorado grown, raised, or processed local products. Participating schools will also be eligible to receive assistance and education to embrace community connections when procuring local food, through an amplified version of the Local Food Program. Nourish Colorado is looking forward to assisting with the implementation of each of these programs within HB22-1380 and Healthy School Meals for All in the new year.