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Access to Healthy Food

Kids need plenty of fresh, nutritious foods to support their growing bodies and brains. When kids fail to get enough food—or enough of the right kinds of food—their physical and cognitive development suffers. Children need access to healthy foods and adequate time to eat wherever they go— at home, in child care settings, and at school. 

According to the most recent data from 2018 to 2020, approximately 215,000 Coloradan children (17%) lived in households that were food insecure at some point during the year. Young children are particularly impacted by food insecurity given the rapid pace of development during the early years of life. Older kids feel the detrimental effects of hunger as well, and research shows that it can impact their behavior in school, academic success and their overall mental health. Food insecurity is also linked to obesity, as it causes a tendency to overeat, while the accessibility of low-cost foods simultaneously tend to be less nutritious

The Children’s Campaign works with partners and community members to pursue policy changes at the federal, state and local level to increase access to healthy for all children, with a focus on those who face the greatest barriers to food security.


Time to Eat: An Emerging Consideration for School Lunch Delivery and the Nutrition of Colorado’s Students 

Experiencing hunger can negatively impact a child’s health, behavior and overall performance in school. Though substantial progress has been made to increase access to school foods, ensuring adequate time to eat remains to be a challenge for students and schools. This 2020 issue brief shares some of those best practices, highlights what research tells us about the importance of ensuring adequate time to eat, and shares the perceptions of parents, administrators and school food providers as it relates to time to eat. 

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Recent Policy Successes

Proposition FF: Healthy School Meals for All Public School Students creates the Healthy School Meals for All (HSMA) program to reimburse school districts for providing free meals to all students in Colorado. The HSMA program ensures that public schools can meet all children’s nutritional needs. Approved in the November 2022 election through a statewide ballot measure, Prop FF raises approximately $100 million per year to cover the costs of the program by limiting state income tax deductions on Coloradans making more than $300,000 a year.

HB 19-1171 (Michaelson Jenet/Fields & Priola) Expand Child Nutrition School Lunch Protection Act eliminates the lunch co-pay for high school students eligible for reduced-price lunch. With this change, Colorado no longer charges reduced-price lunch copays in public schools.

Colorado regulatory SNAP expansion: The Colorado State Board of Human Services approved several changes to Colorado’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (or SNAP) to make the program more efficient and effective, including increasing the gross income eligibility threshold from 185 percent of FPL to 200 percent.