(Apr. 16) – The House approved a set of bills to ensure Colorado’s children have more security and safety in the food they eat.

HB19-1171 sponsored by Rep. Michaelson Jenet, D-Commerce City, would expand school meal programs. Colorado currently pays a forty-cent copay on reduced price lunches for K-8 students through the School Lunch Protection Program. The bill would expand copay coverage through high school.

“Too many young students in our state often face food insecurities, which affects their learning abilities. Fourteen percent of high school youth report going without lunch,” said Rep. Michaelson Jenet. “This bill will break down barriers, end stigma and put our students on paths to success. We must ensure teens and students are provided every opportunity to learn and grow.”

This legislation will remove the stigma and lunch shaming young students face at school when they are unable to afford meals. When students skip meals it affects their academic performance.

Rep. Michaelson Jenet is the co-prime sponsor of a new law SB18-013 that expanded the school meal program to grades 6-8.

HB19-1171 passed with a final vote of 45-19. It now heads to the Senate.

Another bill, HB19-1132, sponsored by Rep. Bri Buentello, D-Pueblo, establishes a grant program in the department of education (CDE) to encourage providers that are entitled to federal money for lunches for students to purchase food products from Colorado growers, producers, and processors.

“Giving incentives to our Colorado schools to use food grown in our state not only benefits the schools, but also supports our local farmers and ranchers,” said Rep. Buentello.

The bill was approved by a bipartisan vote of 53-11 and now heads to the Senate.

Finally, the House also approved HB19-1202, sponsored by Rep. Rochelle Galindo, D-Greeley, and Rep. Barbara McLachlan, D-Durango. The bill advances recommendations that strengthen healthy food access for all Coloradans through Colorado agriculture and local food systems and

economies.

“Hardworking Coloradans and our most vulnerable should be able to access healthy foods no matter their zip-code,” said Rep. Galindo, D-Greeley. “Leveraging the purchasing power of our school districts and health care systems will create more marketing connections with producers to strengthen our food system.”

HB19-1202 will combine the existing Food System Advisory Council with the Farm to School Task Force and places the reconstituted Colorado Food System Advisory Council within Colorado State University. Through this, the university can also look at increasing and strengthening WIC and SNAP retailers as it relates to the access to and provision of healthy foods.

“We need to find a way to increase access to healthy food while also investing in our local, regional, and state economies,” said Rep. McLachlan, D-Durango. “This bill will help increase access to fresh, healthy food for our most vulnerable communities and find sustainable markets for Colorado farmers.”

HB19-1202 passed on a final, bipartisan vote of 42-22 and now goes to the Senate.

Leave a Reply