It is an exciting time for Food Systems at the State Legislature! We are in the final phase of of the 2021 Legislative session and Nourish CO is celebrating the success of our primary initiative this session, and still supporting two pieces of legislation as they continue to move through the process.
Healthy Food Incentives Fund (HFIF) – We are celebrating the success of increasing the annual state allocation from $200,000 to $500,000 in the HFIF! This funding supports incentives for the Double Up Food Bucks and Produce Box programs providing access to nutritious, Colorado grown produce for people who don’t have it. We’d like to thank everyone who helped us in this effort, particularly the support from the Colorado Chapter of the American Heart Association.
SB 21-199: Removing Barriers to Certain Public Opportunities – The bill removes barriers for immigrant and undocumented Coloradans through a) access to occupational and commercial licenses b) opportunities to apply for grants, contracts and loans, c) basic to public support services on the state and local level, and d) prohibit immigration status as an eligibility factor in issuing public benefits across the state. More info about the bill here.
Nourish is particularly committed to this bill because it opens opportunities for our team to expand incentive programming beyond SNAP and WIC to include immigrant and undocumented Coloradans, aligning with our value that food is a basic human right.
The bill has passed out of the Senate and is moving onto the House. We urge people to thank Senators Hansen, Moreno, Coleman, and Gonzales with the following tweet: Thanks to #coleg members who passed #SB199: Remove Barriers to Certain Public Opportunities out of the Senate Appropriations this morning! Thank you for reestablishing CO’s commitment to equity! Please tag @HansenForCO, @domoreno, @repjamescoleman, @SenadoraJulie with the hashtag #removebarriers.
The next step will be getting it passed through the House. Please consider calling and emailing your representative in support of SB199!
SB87 Agricultural Worker Bill of Rights – Also through the Senate and needing to pass the House is the Agricultural Worker Bill of Rights. This legislation provides basic health and safety protections during emergencies such as the pandemic, extends the right to organize to farmworkers, ensures access to doctors, and more. More information about the bill can be found here: https://www.projectprotectfoodsystems.org/sb-21-087
Please consider calling your representative and urging them to support this bill! Also, if you could pass this information along and encourage your networks to send emails – even if they have already in the past – please do it. Feel free to use this template as a starting point. You can also join the text campaign. By texting #AGJUSTICE to 202-883-3703 to stay updated and to receive easy-to-share resources.
Join us on the Food Bill Action Team! Love these updates and want more?! We have a twice a month, 30-minute, call to engage around food system policy issues (State and Federal). Sign up today!
American Rescue Plan, American Families, Plan, LAMP RFPs! Much is afoot in the federal policy space this month for food systems!
First off: money! The RFPs for the Local Agriculture Market Program are now out, and these programs (Farmers Market Promotion Program, Local Food Promotion Program, Regional Food Systems Partnerships) have about triple the funds available than they usually do. Go here to read a helpful blog from National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. Whether or not you are applying or have in the past, we’d love to see more grant reviewers from Colorado on these grant committees! Go here to learn more about the process.
Next up: COVID relief! Since a lot has been happening, NSAC also published this handy summary of all things food systems-related since March 2020. As committed in the American Rescue Plan, farm debt relief is also now available for BIPOC growers and you can read the USDA webpage here for more information. The American Families Plan also includes several provisions to increase access to healthy foods! These include an investment of $45 billion across four nutrition-specific provisions that provide direct support to children and families. The plan:
- Expands Summer EBT, a food assistance program for low-income school aged children during the summer months, to all eligible children nationwide.
- Expands access to healthy school meals in high needs schools, with a focus on elementary schools.
- Establishes a healthy school food incentive pilot.
- Facilitates re-entry for formerly incarcerated individuals through SNAP eligibility.
Lastly, get ready for Child Nutrition Reauthorization marker bill extravaganza! We are thrilled to see the
the Healthy Kids and Healthy Schools campaign include four recently introduced marker bills (all of which we at Nourish support) that will support healthy kids and healthy schools:
- Food and Nutrition Education in Schools Act, which would create more food educator positions in public schools
- Farm to School Act of 2021, which would triple funding and increase equitable access to the USDA Farm to School Grant Program
- Kids Eat Local Act, which would make it easier for schools to source local food for school meals
- School Food Modernization Act, which would provide the funding needed for schools to upgrade their kitchen equipment
Now is the time to make some noise around these bills and share how they would improve your school food or your farm operation! Check out the campaign’s overview and toolkit and reach out to your federal representatives (especially Senator Bennet!) today!