As 2016 comes to a close, I’ve been contemplating the work ahead of us. Like many organizational leaders, I wonder how the new administration and Congress will shape upcoming federal legislation that directly impacts so many Colorado residents.
There’s Child Nutrition Reauthorization, which expired in September 2015 and has been put on hold. It invests in the health and success of our children by funding school meals, after-school supper and snacks, and nutrition support for pregnant mothers and babies.
Hearings have already begun for the Farm Bill, comprehensive legislation that decides the future of farming, crop subsidies, government commodities and food stamps. Of particular concern is the push to block grant food stamps, a program that provides access to nutritious food, supports the foundation of well-being and boosts economic health. While it can sound enticing, such a fundamental change could be a complete disaster for our hungry neighbors and our communities.
In spite of the many questions and potential challenges that lie ahead, I still believe we can end hunger across the state. And, we have made significant progress through collaboration and innovation to fuel the systems, policy and social change needed to ensure no Coloradan goes hungry.
Since 2009, Colorado has jumped from being 44th to 11th in the nation for school breakfast participation by kids from low-income families. Plus, the number of summer meal sites has more than tripled, meaning more Colorado kids and teens have the fuel to thrive.
This past year, we released Food Stamp Impact Reports for all 64 counties, highlighting opportunities to increase access to food assistance. We also served as supporters of Senate Bill 190, bi-partisan legislation that passed unanimously and is now helping the state and county departments with improvements.
The Colorado Food Pantry Network has nearly 100 members working together. And, hundreds of people engaged in advocacy, fundraising and learning, through events such as our first-ever “Hungry for Change: Day at the Capitol,” our month-long Hike for Hunger and our annual Hungry for Change Summit.
Most importantly to me, we continue to believe that those directly impacted by hunger are the real experts. If you haven’t experienced Hunger Through My Lens, take a few moments to visit their website, peruse their photos and learn from the group of advocates in Denver, Prowers County, Roaring Fork Valley and the San Luis Valley. They inspire me with their insights, courage and unblinking honesty.
Hunger is like a Rubik’s Cube, and if we continue to move the policies and programs in the right direction, we will solve it together.
I hope you’ll join me in moving the solution forward by investing in our work. Make a year-end donation. Join our online action network. Share our statewide food resource hotline (855-855-4626) with others. Save the date for “Hungry for Change: Day at the Capitol,” taking place Feb. 7, 2017, at the Colorado State Capitol.
We need you, now more than ever, to ensure all Coloradans have enough healthy food to thrive and reach their potential.