A new state advisory council aims to make healthy foods more accessible

A bill signed into law this week has created an advisory council tasked with ensuring Colorado residents' greater access to healthy foods.

The thirteen-member Colorado Food Systems Advisory Council will collaborate on such issues as increasing state participation in federal food assistance programs, creating incentives in so-called "food deserts," allowing food stamps at farmers' markets and making it easier for schools to use local foods, among other things.

Convening an advisory council, rather than approaching the issue directly through legislation, allows for more collaboration and hopefully a better policy outcome says LiveWell Colorado's vice president of policy Lonna Lindsay. "They may arrive at a collective point that doesn't necessarily require state statute to implement it," she says.

For example, Lindsay says, "In many cases barriers to [availability of local food] are not necessarily state law. A barrier could be a potato farmer not knowing a local school is even interested in serving local potatoes."

The council will be composed of four representatives from state state agencies and nine with experience in the fields of agriculture, nutrition, food wholesaling/retailing, food assistance and economic development. It will begin convening later this year.

The bill was sponsored by Sen. Bob Bacon (D-Fort Collins) and Rep. Marsha Looper (R-Calhan). Council designees are anticipated to be announced this fall.

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