Colorado is known as the nation's leanest state, but this distinction belongs only to its adults. Colorado ranks 29th in the nation for childhood obesity.
Meanwhile, Colorado's rural economies have not grown at the same pace as those in the Denver metro region.
Colorado House Bill 1088, sponsored by Rep. Faith Winter, D-Westminster, effectively addresses this childhood obesity problem and uneven economic recovery by providing grants to help farmers produce healthy, nutritious food for public school kids.
Research shows that farm-to-school programs work for students. They provide kids with healthy food options and teach them about nutrition and food production.According to the op-ed, sixteen other states support farm-to-school programs, and similar support is being proposed by House Bill 1088. What Colorado does have right now is a privately funded task force which has been considering how to expand these programs. According to the op-ed,
Schools have reported to the task force that there simply are not enough local agricultural producers in the market to initiate or expand farm-to-school relationships.The authors observe that Colorado schools spent $180 million on school meals in 2013-2014, and they assert that keeping more of that money in the state could have economic benefits, especially in rural places.
Farmers who sell to schools see an average 5 percent increase in their total income. Furthermore, studies show that each $1 invested in farm-to-school programs produces $2.16 of local economic activity, and for every one job created by schools purchasing local food, 1.67 more jobs are created locally.The authors of the op-ed are Jake Williams, the executive director of Healthier Colorado, and Anthony Zamora of Leffler Family Farms in Eaton, a member of Colorado's Farm to School Task Force.
Another post about farm-to-school programming--where the farm is part of the school--is here.