On March 9th, LiveWell Colorado kicked off its annual Day at the Capitol with a luncheon and program to support the year’s theme “Healthy Food Access: Growing Colorado’s Health and Agricultural Economy.” The event, attended by community members from around the metro area and as far away as Montrose, was the most well attended Day at the Capitol in LiveWell’s history. More than 90 advocates from across Colorado took part in meetings with their state representatives, a legislative luncheon, and a program honoring community and legislative advocates of healthy eating and active living.
“I was surprised by how accessible and supportive my legislators were,” said Rebecca Rice, coordinator for LiveWell Chaffee County. This was Rice’s first Day at the Capitol with LiveWell Colorado and her first time setting foot inside the state’s capitol building. Rice took the opportunity to meet with her legislators to talk to them about the importance of access to healthy and nutritious food to community health.
But for Rice and many others at the capitol, the most impactful part of the day was hearing from the recipients of LiveWell Colorado’s Community Impact and Legislative Excellence awards, “It was inspiring to see that recognition,” said Rice, “to see that we were all part of a much bigger movement.”
LiveWell Colorado recognized Beverly Grant with the 2016 Community Impact award for her work to ensure equitable food access in northeast Denver. Lyz Riley of SHARE Northeast Denver, a LiveWell Colorado community, noted that Grant has been “integral” in passing legislation at the state and local level to increase access to healthy foods in the communities that need it most, on top of her day job operating five farmers markets in northeast Denver.
LiveWell Colorado also recognized Senator Larry Crowder of Alamosa and Representative Dominick Moreno of Commerce City with the 2016 Legislative Excellence Awards. “We’re honored to have such incredible partners in the legislative realm, helping support access to healthy living,” said Shepard Nevel, LiveWell Colorado Chief Executive Officer. “Representative Moreno is a tireless champion for increasing access to healthy food and health equity in his district, and Senator Crowder built a bipartisan coalition in support of advancing farm to school efforts in Colorado,” added Nevel.
The event also featured a special guest , Governor John Hickenlooper, who praised LiveWell Colorado for becoming “a national model for collaboration between the private and public sector to advance health and wellness, [with] demonstrated results in urban and rural communities across the state.”
The awards program also highlighted work being done across the state at the local level to promote access to healthy food, including an overview of LiveWell Montrose-Olathe’s Farmacy Rx program providing hospital patients with a “prescription” for nutritious, locally-sourced food. Attendees also heard about the city of Arvada’s program leasing city land to urban farmers.
LiveWell Chaffee County’s Rebecca Rice says she hopes to build on the relationships she made during the day before next year’s event. “That’s the nice thing about coming from a small, rural community,” she noted, “your representatives are very local and excited to talk about the issues with you.”