During the height of the pandemic, food choices were limited due to restaurant closures and empty shelves in the grocery store. For most of us, the feeling of food scarcity caught us off guard and was abnormal and unsettling. However, for many people, this feeling isn’t new and having access to healthy food regularly is a constant struggle, which is why Monument Health is excited to give back and financially support Nourish Colorado.
Nourish Colorado, formerly known as LiveWell, is a Colorado non-profit focused on reshaping the food system. The organization believes access to nourishing food is a basic human right and should not be determined by economic conditions, race, ethnicity, or where someone lives. Through advocacy, programs, partnerships, and networks, Nourish Colorado works to equitably deliver healthy food to all people.
Monument Health’s Executive Director, Ashley Thurow also serves as the current board chair of Nourish Colorado. She brings a strong knowledge of the organization to the Grand Valley and shares, “I am thrilled to be a part of a community that is working hard to provide food access to everyone. At Monument Health, we value whole-person care. Having access to nutritious food is foundational to good health.”
By partnering with groups across the state, in 2020 Nourish Colorado was able to purchase almost $500,000 worth of weekly produce boxes to nearly 1,200 households in 25 counties, provided by 41 different farmers or food hubs. These boxes were delivered June-October, with more produce provided toward late summer and the harvest. The recipients, whose average household size was 3-4, were either participants in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) or in the Older Adult Congregate Meal Program. Each box contains enough produce to last a family of 4-5 for a week, and typically a week’s box is valued at around $35 worth of produce.
Because of this program, 91% of WIC participants and 81% of older adults reported an increase in food security and 84% of WIC and 74% of older adults reported an increase in produce consumption. In Mesa County, 40 WIC households received weekly boxes of 100% local produce in Summer-Fall 2020.
Nourish Colorado also manages the Double Up Food Bucks program, which is a program that provides cash incentives to purchase local produce for participants of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) across the state. Over $900,000 dollars in SNAP plus Double Up Food Bucks were spent at partner locations in 2020. In Mesa County, GJ Downtown Farmers Market on Main, and Fruita Farmers Market participate in the program, collectively receiving $2,530 in Double Up Food Bucks in 2020 that went to local growers and extended food benefits for 75 households experiencing economic insecurity.
Nourish Colorado is working to sustain—and grow—its initiatives across the state. They are committed to advocacy, which must be done to make access to nutritious food a norm across Colorado. Nourish Colorado is inviting individual contributions or corporate sponsorships to support their work transforming the food system.