case study: colorado

In 2010, the Colorado Health Foundation and the Denver Department of Environmental Health grew concerned about poor healthy food access in multiple areas across the city and in rural communities throughout the state. Working with The Food Trust, the Foundation released the report Healthy Food for All: Encouraging Grocery Development in Colorado, which found the need for improved grocery store access in several lower-income neighborhoods in Denver, as well as large portions of eastern Colorado.

To develop a response, the Colorado Health Foundation and the Office of Mayor John Hickenlooper convened the Denver Food Access Task Force, which included representatives from the City of Denver, area redevelopment agencies, local philanthropic foundations, grocery store operators and other civic leaders to develop a series of recommendations to address the problem. Modeled after national best practices, the recommendations included the creation of a statewide healthy food financing initiative.


Following the work of the task force, the Colorado Health Foundation seeded the Colorado Fresh Food Financing Fund (CO4F) with a $7.1 million investment in CHFA. Two additional organizations, PUMA (a food access organization) and the Colorado Enterprise Fund, support program application and pipeline development and provide technical assistance to small and innovative fresh food concepts, respectively. The goal of CO4F is to:

  • Improve retail access to fresh and healthy foods in Colorado
  • Encourage economic development in low- to moderate-income neighborhoods
  • Provide attainable financing to food retail outlets that will promote more and better food access
  • Partner with local governments when possible to enhance the benefits and success
  • Develop a Colorado model based upon national best practices

As of August 2016, the CO4F has awarded more than $2.3 million to a variety of projects that serve communities in urban and rural Colorado including full service grocery stores, urban farms, mobile markets and more. 


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