How Sprout City Farms and LiveWell are teaming up to increase access to healthy, local food in Colorado
As temperatures rise and another growing season begins in Colorado, LiveWell’s staff and partners around the state are kicking into high gear for year two of Double Up Food Bucks, a program led by LiveWell Colorado that increases access to locally-grown fruits and vegetables for participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP or food stamps) while also benefiting Colorado farmers and the local economy. The program launched in July 2016 with more than 40 local food retailers across 20 counties. This year, the number of participating Double Up locations has doubled to more than 80 locations in 28 counties across Colorado.
Double Up Food Bucks would not exist—much less be such a success—without the support and hard work of our many amazing, innovative, and collaborative partners dedicated to addressing hunger and healthy food access issues around the state. One example of the great partnerships we’ve cultivated through Double Up is Sprout City Farms, an urban agriculture nonprofit founded in 2010 with a mission to cultivate educational urban farms that engage and strengthen communities. “We believe that a thriving local food system is the foundation for healthy, resilient communities—and we view ourselves as one piece of that system, so we rely heavily on community engagement and partnerships in order to achieve our mission,” says executive director Laura Lavid.
Over the years, the organization has grown into a network of three community farms—each about an acre—at three unique sites in three distinct Metro Area communities: Denver Green School in Southeast Denver, Mountair Park in Lakewood, and its newest farm at the Dahlia Campus of Health and Well-being in Northeast Park Hill. “Each partnership looks a little different, as each community has its own unique strengths and opportunities,” Lavid says.
But while the specifics vary, the approach is always community-driven. “We strive to provide a variety of programs designed to meet every level of need within each community, because we believe that all members of the community should have access to fresh, healthy, naturally grown food,” says Lavid.
One way that Sprout City Farms has met this need is by accepting SNAP (food stamp) benefits. “Access to affordable, healthy, local food has been our priority from the very beginning, so we’ve always accepted SNAP benefits at every site,” says Lavid. “So when we heard about the Double Up Food Bucks program and how it would double the amount of fresh produce for our SNAP customers, it was an obvious choice for us to sign on.”
The organization has already seen how partnering with Double Up Food Bucks has impacted the communities it works in. “We have one elderly woman in particular who is on food stamps and experiencing some health issues, and the Double Up program has really helped her. She was so excited to be able to use her food stamps to participate in our CSA and get double the amount of healthy fresh food,” says Lavid. “She continues to tell us how grateful she is for the program, because she’s eating much better and feeling much healthier as a result.”
Sprout City Farms operates several farm stands and farmers markets throughout the season, all of which accept Double Up Food Bucks:
- Dahlia Campus Farmers Market – Wednesdays, June 21-October 11, 4 p.m. – sunset
- Denver Green School Community Farm Stand – Wednesdays, August 23-October 25, 3:30-5:30 p.m.
- 40 West Farmers Market – Saturdays, June 3-October 7, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Plus, the farms have Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs with low- to no-cost memberships available for SNAP clients—visit sproutcityfarms.org/sponsored-shares/ for more info.
For more information about Double Up Food Bucks, including how to get involved and a map of all 2017 locations, please visit DoubleUpColorado.org.