Terri Livermore, Policy Director

A Triple Win?! That’s great! What is it? It’s when multiple groups, in this case three (triple!), all realize a benefit from the same action, policy, or program. In this case, a statewide policy (HB19-1132) that leads to a program – the Local School Food Purchasing Program.

In the waning days of the 2019 legislative session, with urging from LiveWell and many, many partners across the state, the legislature passed HB19-1132 creating a three-year pilot program incentivizing school districts to purchase more food grown, raised, or produced in Colorado. How does this create a triple win? Follow along as we go through it.

The legislature, in its infinite wisdom, provided funding for a diverse mix of school districts, whose school lunch counts collectively total 10 million meals, to participate in the program. Schools will apply through a competitive grant application process administered by the Colorado Department of Education. Districts accepted into the program will receive a $.05 per lunch incentive to purchase more Colorado products for use in their meal programs.

Already we can see two clear wins: 1) kids eating school meals get additional fresh, healthy food on their plates, and 2) Colorado producers have access to larger, more consistent markets. What’s the third win? It turns out that when money is spent locally, it stays longer in the local economy. Local schools using additional money to purchase products from local producers will, in turn, boost the local economy. A triple win!

This bill would not have been possible without our bill sponsors, who fought to ensure the bill would get the funding it needs: Rep. Bri Buentello (D-Pueblo) and Rep. Rod Pelton (R-Cheyenne Wells) in the House of Representatives, and Sen. Don Coram (R-Montrose) and Sen. Jeff Bridges (D-Littleton) in the Senate. Feel free to drop them a note and let them know you appreciate their efforts.

Just as important were the over 60 organizations across the state who signed on in support and the over 150 people who sent emails and/or made phone calls to their legislators at the critical juncture when the legislators were deciding which bills to fund.

Finally, several individuals contributed significant time and effort by traveling to the Gold Dome Building in Denver to testify in committee hearings and advocate for the bill with their legislators. Sarah Tomsic, the nutrition services production chef from Thompson School District, and the 12 participants in LiveWell’s Voices for Food Systems Change advocacy program contributed essential experience and personal knowledge directly to legislators at key moments. And while I’m at it, a tip of the cap to my LiveWell colleagues, Chef Jessica Wright and Wendy Peters Moschetti, for unfailingly showing up at the Capitol to brilliantly testify, even when it meant canceling, at the last second, a farm tour (the folks in Salida were very understanding!).

All of those efforts, including input from multiple partners as the bill was developed, contributed to convincing a strong bi-partisan majority of the legislature pass this triple win for kids, Colorado producers, and local economies. Seriously, we have the most amazing partners! Stay tuned as the real work – implementation – begins soon.