Denver Tax Will Support Nonprofit Healthy Food Groups

first_imgShare22TweetShareEmail22 Shares December 4, 2018; Civil EatsLast month, with 59 percent voter approval, Denver passed Ordinance 302. Placed on the ballot by the Healthy Food For Denver Kids campaign, the measure establishes a mini-sales tax (eight hundredths of one percent) for 10 years to fund healthy food access and education programs for youth in Denver.Writing for Civil Eats, Rachel Cernasky explains that, “Under the initiative, a 13-person commission will be created (through a preexisting city-coordinated process) to allocate the funds.” The measure is expected to raise $11.2 million in the first year. Funds raised will go to Denver groups already working to get more healthy food to children in low-income families.“According to the Healthy Food campaign,” Cernasky writes, “one in seven kids in Denver missed a meal in the last 30 days because of cost; Colorado itself is the third fastest-growing state for childhood hunger.”As Cernasky explains, using taxes to improve health is not uncommon. For instance, Philadelphia’s soda tax raised $79 million in its first year. Other cities with soda and sugar taxes include Berkeley, California; San Francisco, California; and Boulder, Colorado.The Denver approach is different, however, since it is not a sin tax, but rather a general city sales tax of .08 percent. Effectively, the tax measure approved by voters in November raises the sales tax paid by Denver consumers from 3.65 percent to 3.73 percent.The tax helps finance Denver’s long-term strategic plan to achieve a healthy and equitable food system. The 2017 Denver Food Vision outlines twelve key goals:Invest in building community-driven complete neighborhood food environmentsExpand community food production and sharingImprove access to a wide variety of healthy food retail optionsEnsure that healthy food is affordable for everyonePromote healthy food environments and education for youthIncrease community demand for healthy foodsDevelop Denver as an epicenter for the regional food economySupport the creation, expansion and economic strength of Denver food businessesSpur innovation and entrepreneurship across food and agricultural industriesExpand and preserve regional food system assets and infrastructurePromote environmentally regenerative and climate smart food systemsReduce amount of food going to wasteShannon Spurlock, manager of external relations for the nonprofit urban agriculture and education organization Denver Urban Gardens, notes that the tax was needed to have the ability to make progress on those goals. “A plan without funding is really hard to consistently implement,” Spurlock tells Cernasky.Early education is a central focus of the Denver plan. It’s crucial “to make the healthy choice the easy choice,” says Spurlock, who adds that, “This investment in kids—it’s not just for the next 10 years, but the lessons and experiences that they learn now have the potential to benefit them for a lifetime.”Denver Urban Gardens is one likely recipient of city funds because they already work with schools throughout Denver. Other Denver nonprofits that are likely to get funding include GrowHaus, Re:Vision, and Denver Food Rescue. That said, decisions regarding allocation of tax revenues received will not occur until mid-2019.Spurlock indicates that because the tax provides new revenues, it is her hope that the tax will help groups to expand and deepen their work. For Denver Urban Gardens, that includes stronger partnerships with Denver schools, a key focus for her group. “There’s a lot of research out there showing that when kids grow their own food, they’re more likely to eat it,” Spurlock adds.—Steve DubbShare22TweetShareEmail22 Shareslast_img read more