Proposal would increase eligibility for the Wholesome Consuming for Denver Kids Initiative | Concentrate on Denver
The Denver City Council will shortly consider a proposal to update the Healthy Eating For Denver’s Kids Initiative to expand eligibility for access and funding of additional programs.
The Council’s Security Committee unanimously approved the proposal on Wednesday and forwarded it to the full council for a final vote. The proposal needs a public hearing and the approval of the super-majority by the Council in the coming weeks.
“Ultimately, the reasons for these changes are to expand the eligibility requirements for both committee members and organizations that can apply for funding,” said Paige Cheney, contract administrator at Healthy Food for Denver’s Kids.
The initiative was a citizen-led electoral measure approved by voters in 2018. The program receives 0.08% of sales and excise taxes to fund access to healthy food and nutrition-based education for the city’s youth.
The program distributes funds through grants to local nonprofits, government agencies, and Denver Public Schools that specifically target low-income and vulnerable youth.
The main changes would extend the requirements for grant recipients to 18 year olds and organizations whose access to food and education accounts for less than 50% of their activities – neither of which are currently eligible for grants.
The changes would also remove residency and age requirements for the program’s commissioners and open applications to people who live outside of Denver but work in the city, and for people of all ages, instead of the current age 21 rule.
“We believe the proposed changes will allow more organizations to apply for our funding, which will hopefully affect more nonprofits and schools in different neighborhoods across the city,” said Lauren Howe, program administrator for Healthy Food for Denver’s Kids.
Howe said this would improve the consistency, accessibility, diversity, inclusion, and effectiveness of the program to better serve Denver’s youth.
If the changes were approved, the changes would open the program to organizations specializing in mental health, affordable housing, assistance to refugees and immigrants, youth empowerment, environmental health, and education, including early childhood education and childcare.
Of the 30% of applicant organizations rejected by the program, 80% would be eligible under the proposed changes, Howe said.
Expanding the number of eligible organizations would also allow the program to redistribute more of its available funding, as it has received more than $ 34 million since the program began but has only spent about half of that, Cheney said.
“I’m thrilled with how much money we’re bringing in. I believed in this initiative when it was launched and I still do, ”said City Councilor Paul Kashmann. “I appreciate these changes that will allow us to more easily bring money into the community for the children who need it.”
Howe said the proposed changes had public outreach support from all current and potential grant recipients, community officials, and the Denver Kids Nutrition Commission.
The Commission did not receive any objection to the proposal by Wednesday.