August Policy Digest 

State Policy Update

SRTS Research Update

Earlier this summer, LiveWell Colorado’s policy department sent a survey to many of our partner groups and community organizations concerning Safe Routes to School (SRTS) to learn more about community perception of the program and how LiveWell might better help our constituents utilize it. SRTS is an annual federal grant program administered by the Colorado Department of Transportation that allocates funding to schools and communities to create educational programming and biking and walking infrastructure helping schools and communities become safer and more active. More information on the program can be found here.

LiveWell conducted this survey to better understand potential obstacles preventing communities and organizations from applying for and securing funding and how we might be able to help. We were very pleased with the amount of survey responses we received and the results were relatively in line with our predictions. Every respondent was aware of the SRTS program and the majority were from organizations that at some point had applied for funding. Overwhelmingly, the biggest obstacles that prevented those polled from applying for funding was a lack of local matching funds (the program requires a 20% fiscal match), and a lack of staff to prepare a proposal.

Using the results of the survey Livewell, and our organizations policy team has multiple avenues to help our communities gain sustainable and equitable access to biking and walking. The organization is currently in the process of working with CDOT to explore potential ways that low income and rural communities can better address the challenge of the 20% match. In an effort to address the other major area of concern gleamed from the survey, LiveWell is also working on ways that our organization can help with the application process. Further efforts are also being directed towards infrastructure policy reform and the reestablishment of a state wide SRTS task force to address community concerns and challenges. LiveWell will continue to listen to voices throughout the state to find the best way to provide Coloradans access to safe areas to bike and walk both to and from school and in their overall communities.

Colorado Food Policy Network Summer Research

The Colorado Food Policy Network (COFPN) is a collaboration of food organizations from throughout Colorado that focuses on the state’s food systems – essentially covering every step that affects food, from production and distribution to consumption and waste. The network currently has five focus areas: Land access for food production, supporting institutions procuring food locally, healthy community food assistance, healthy food retail, and nutrition incentives.

This summer, one of the network’s focuses has been on collecting data throughout Colorado to help inform directions that can be taken locally and statewide. For instance, baseline data is being captured to find out how institutions (ex. hospitals, K-12 schools, and universities) have made shifts in food procurement. Data will then be used to inform how policies can be supported for institutions to procure food from local, Colorado farmers.

Another project the network has undertaken is surveying both statewide and nationwide healthy food prescription programs, where doctors and other professionals “prescribe” fruits and vegetables to patients and clients, usually including a voucher for a local farmers market or grocery store to purchase these healthy food items. Efforts will be used to give recommendations and tool kits for organizations to start programs similar to this.

In addition to these, research is being done to better understand gleaning programs in Colorado, land access for producing healthy foods and organizations that are involved with these endeavors. As more data is gathered, policies can be better informed and local capacities can grow.

For more information on the network and what it does, contact David Hutabarat at davidhutabarat@livewellcolorado.org.

Federal Policy Update

SNAP

LiveWell Colorado continues to monitor and advocate against proposed reductions in funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) former known as food stamps. Political discussion on the matter has largely centered around the need to remove able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) from the program. The reality is that the vast majority of SNAP recipients are elderly, in families with children, or caring for an elderly or disabled person. Able-bodied adults without dependents are currently eligible for only 3 months of benefits every six years.

Farm Bill

Though a bill has yet to be introduced, LiveWell is continuing to monitor developments on the 2018 Farm Bill, including any changes to SNAP (the SNAP program is housed in the Farm Bill). We are primarily working to ensure SNAP remains fully funded and is not turned into a block grant program that would effectively cap the amount any individual state could receive from the program. We are also working to insure that the Food Insecurity and Nutrition Incentive grants (FINI) remain funded and focused on increasing the availability of fruits and vegetables (not milk or meat products).