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Food Donations? You Can Take It to the Bank … Or Maybe Not

No one disputes the importance of food banks in getting nutritious meals to the poor. It’s a long-held concept in America and beyond.

But what if more grocery chains cut out the middleman – they routinely donate overstocks and products near their expiration dates to food banks – and served low-income populations directly?

That’s one goal of the Colorado Health Foundation, which last month announced a $7.1 million seed investment for the Colorado Fresh Food Financing Fund (CO4F).

The first of its kind in Colorado, the statewide fund was a result of recommendations by the Denver Food Access Task Force, which cites a mission of getting more grocery stores (and thus fresh food) in under-served areas of the city and state.

“The fund is designed to improve access to healthy and affordable food and is a critical step in achieving the Foundation’s vision of making Colorado the healthiest state in the nation,” said Kelly Dunkin, vice president of philanthropy for the Colorado Health Foundation. “Without access to healthy food, a nutritious diet and healthy lifestyle are out of reach to families that live in ‘food deserts’ across Colorado. Without supermarkets and other fresh food retailers, communities are missing key components of healthy living and economic growth.”

The foundation hopes the fund will:

  • Improve retail access to fresh and healthy foods in Colorado
  • Encourage economic development in low- to moderate-income neighborhoods
  • Provide attainable financing to food retail outlets that will promote better food access
  • Partner with local governments when possible to enhance the benefits and success
  • Develop a Colorado model based upon national best practices

“(We have) a strong track record of bringing together public, private and nonprofit partners to generate reinvestment in under-served communities,” said Cris White, executive director and CEO of The Colorado Housing and Finance Authority, which will administer the program. “We are proud to lend our economic development and commercial lending expertise to support the success of Colorado’s Fresh Food Fund.”

Those interested in learning more or applying can visit CO4F or contact Erica Heller at 303.628.5592 or CO4F@pumaworldhq.com.

By Mike Pearson, former Features Editor for the Rocky Mountain News

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