The Jefferson County Board of Commissioners recently approved $350,000 for food support. These funds are in addition to $1.7 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding approved in 2022 for food security efforts in Jeffco.
The additional ARPA funding will serve community-based food organizations working to create a more resilient and equitable food system through a grant program. This investment is critically important to address challenges such as the high cost of food, supply chain impacts, infrastructure gaps, local farming needs, and the impending reduction in Federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits at the end of this month.
In a robust community review process, Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) selected one-time funding for 12 local organizations (nine nonprofits and three businesses) as part of Jeffco’s long-term food security and collective impact efforts. “These organizations, and many more, are working to improve our community’s access to healthy, local food by building a more resilient and equitable food system in Jefferson County,” said Willow Cozzens, JCPH’s Food Equity and Nutrition Security Coordinator.
Jefferson County intends to distribute grants up to $300,000 based on the type of project, service area, and how the application meets eligibility criteria. The review committee rated each grant application based on how the work will lead to a more resilient food system, community engagement efforts, and commitment to building equity in the Jefferson County food system.
Recipients: Grant winners showed a distinctive commitment to their community and include urban farms, food pantries across the county, local grocery stores, food processing and distribution businesses, and more:
• East Denver Food Hub
• Evergreen Christian Outreach
• FrontLine Farming
• Kaizen Food Rescue
• Mission Arvada The Rising
• Mountain Resource Center
• Sprout City Farms
• The Action Center
• Wheat Ridge Poultry and Meats
Jefferson County is committed to fostering a local food system that ensures equitable access to nutritious, locally produced food that reflects cultural preferences. This will be achieved through supporting Jefferson County farmers, investing in food systems infrastructure, improving organizational community engagement, commitment to racial and social equity, and striving for strong collaboration among organizations and communities. Community-based food justice organizations must be connected with meaningful resources, including funding, training, technical assistance, and tools for building organizational resilience.
Jefferson County was awarded $113 million in total ARPA funding relief. Prior to the pandemic, 9.1% of Coloradans and 10% of Jeffco residents were experiencing food insecurity. Since the pandemic began, that number has quadrupled with 38%, or 2 of 5 Coloradans experiencing food insecurity.