Overall FAQ

Who is behind this?

  • Healthy Food for Denver is a 100% citizen lead initiative – we are just a group of residents that care about food and community. We are working with local nonprofits, some of whom have endorsed the campaign.

Do I have to live in Denver to support?

  • Signers must be residents registered and eligible to vote in the City of Denver
  • BUT if you don’t live in Denver there are other ways you can help!
    • Volunteer to collect signatures!
    • Post about your support for what we are doing on Social Media:
      • Twitter: #HealthyFood4Den
      • Instagram: @HealthyFoodforDenver
      • Facebook: @HealthyFoodforDenver
    • Sign up for our newsletter or donate through our website


What does signing the petition mean?

  • Signing these petitions helps get the issues on the ballot this November
  • Just because you have signed doesn’t mean you have to vote yes (though we obviously would like you to!)
  • If we get enough signatures (10,000!), Denver County residents get to vote on this important issue   


Isn’t the Denver community doing well?

  • It is! The unemployment rate in the US is 4%, Colo 3%, and in Denver 2%,  but that prosperity is not shared with everyone. With an economy that is doing so well, can’t we can afford to invest in helping our kids and our neighbors who need it most?


Healthy Food for Denver’s Kids FAQ

Why is this important?

  • 68.51% of kids in DPS qualify for Free/Reduced lunch
  • Colorado is the third fastest growing state for childhood hunger
  • In Denver, this impacts nearly 1 in 4 kids (24%) whose families who cannot afford three meals per day
  • Food insecurity impacts our kids’ ability to learn and can create lifelong health impacts


How would this initiative help?

  • Helps provide 3 healthy meals for kids year-round (to fill in gaps between school lunch and other meal programs)
  • Provide cooking, gardening, and healthy eating classes
  • Supports local farms, ranches and food businesses (when possible, affordable)
  • Schools and youth-focused non-profits already doing this good work can apply for funds, like Denver Urban Gardens, the GrowHaus, Revision, Denver Food Rescue, and more


Where does the money come from?

  • Increase the current sales tax by 0.08% (less than a penny on a $10 purchase)
  • Tax expires at the end of 9 years (Distributed funds over 10 years)
  • Over the course of 10 years, this will raise around $100 million, estimated $11.2 million in the first year
  • Colorado has the 6th lowest state sales tax in the country at 2.9%


How does the funding work?

  • This creates a Commission made up of 5 public officials (city council members, etc.) and 8 community members to distribute the funds
  • The majority-community board would make decisions, similar to the way other scientific and cultural taxes are distributed in the city  


What is the sales tax in Denver County?

  • Colorado state sales tax =  2.9 % (the lowest sales tax rate of all states with sales taxes!)
  • Denver sales tax = 3.65 % (we are proposing to increase it to 3.73%)
  • Total sales tax in Denver  = 7.65 % (State Sales Tax + Local Sales Tax + RTD +Cultural Facilities District tax)


How much food do school meals cover for kids?

  • Consuming both breakfast & lunch at  school provides 58% of a child’s daily calories


Healthy Food for Denver’s Food Deserts FAQ

Why does this matter?

  • Over 80,000 food insecure people in Denver County
  • Half of Denver’s low/moderate-income neighborhoods don’t have a grocery store
  • 131,217 people in Denver live in Food Deserts (1 in 5)
  • A Coloradan on food stamps, on average, only receives about $1.42 per meal in food stamp benefits, making even the cost of a bus ticket a barrier to eating

What is a Food Desert?

  • A neighborhood (census tract) where:
    • Most residents have low/moderate incomes (under 80% area median income)
    • Many residents (⅓ +) live far from a full-service supermarket (over ½ mile)
    • Many residents do not have a vehicle (100+ households in the tract do not have an available vehicle ).


What neighborhoods in Denver are Food Deserts?

  • Many neighborhoods in the South West and the North East quadrants, such as Sun Valley (By Broncos Stadium), Globeville/Elyria-Swansea (north of I-70 by the Dog Food plant), and parts of Park Hill and Montbello (out by the airport).

How would this initiative address the problem?

  • Funds support grants and loans for grocery stores and innovative food retail businesses,  such as co-ops and mobile groceries, to help them bring healthy food back into Denver food deserts and create local jobs


Where does the money come from?

  • 1.5% sales tax for retail marijuana will raise $5.6 Million the first year, and about $60 Million over 10 years.
  • In 2013, Denver voters approved a 15% medical marijuana tax., but there is currently only 3.5% special tax on retail marijuana being collected. Our 1.5% request still leaves 10% of un-utilized but approved tax for other future purposes.


How much money does the marijuana industry make?

  • In 2017 there 1$.5B in sales for State of Colorado and $583M in Denver County for Retail and Medical Sales ($376.6M and  $206.4M, respectively)


How does the funding work?

  • Funds will be distributed by Denver Department of Public Health & Environment similar to other programs they are running to help food deserts


Would this tax recreational or medical marijuana?  

  • This tax would ONLY apply to recreational Marijuana


How much money does recreational marijuana make in Denver?

  • 376.6M for Retail Sales and 206.4M for Medical Sales (583M total) in Denver County in 2017


What does recreational marijuana money go towards now?

  • The current 3.5% goes towards:
    • increased policing,
    • public health inspections of marijuana facilities,
    • youth education, and
    • capital construction for public schools.


Non-Profit Advocacy FAQ 

We have received a number of questions about the ability of non-profits (501c3) to advocate or lobby for specific policy issues.

It is confusing for a couple of reasons. First, non-profits cannot engage in partisan elections at all – meaning they cannot endorse nor oppose specific candidates. Second, non-profits can engage in limited legislative lobbying activities, but it must be an “insubstantial” part of the nonprofit’s activities. This is a difficult limit to articulate (even for the IRS, see here).

Fortunately, the IRS offers a better option to reduce the risk of the generic standard – that option is called the Expenditure Test (defined by the IRS here) and is available to non-profit organizations who make an 501(h) election by filing form 5768 (here). The major impact is one additional tax (Schedule C filed with the Form 990 of 990-EZ available here) required each year until the h election is removed. This information is educational for a general audience, please consult your tax and/or legal advisor to confirm specific impacts to your organization.

For more information from the National Council of Nonprofits, see “Taking the 501(h) election The Powerful, Free, and Easy 501(h) Election” here

For more information from the Alliance for Justice, see “Worry-Free Lobbying For Nonprofits, How To Use The 501(h) Election To Maximize Effectiveness” including a letter from 17 tax experts on page 11 here

For more information from Bolder Advocacy, see “9 Questions About the 501(h) Election” here

For more information from the IRS (Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 17-Feb-2018), see “Measuring Lobbying Activity: Expenditure Test” here