Initiated Ordinance 302 in the 2018 Denver election: What to know about “Healthy Food for Denver Kids”

This is the one about food and food education for kids.

Antonia Montoya plays with her grandkids, Nathan (left) and Angelina in the Globeville Recreation Center after a community food bank run by the Birdseed Collective wrapped up for the day, Aug. 20, 2018. Denver Food Rescue, which partners with BirdSeed and others to get nutritious food to people who need it, is now planning to set up a pantry as part of a program fighting childhood obesity and diabetes at a Denver Health clinic.(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Antonia Montoya plays with her grandkids, Nathan (left) and Angelina in the Globeville Recreation Center after a community food bank run by the Birdseed Collective wrapped up for the day, Aug. 20, 2018. Denver Food Rescue, which partners with BirdSeed and others to get nutritious food to people who need it, is now planning to set up a pantry as part of a program fighting childhood obesity and diabetes at a Denver Health clinic.(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Donna Bryson. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Initiated Ordinance 302 asks Denver voters to increase the sales tax by .08 percent to raise an estimated $11.2 million in the first year and some $100 million over a decade that would be used to feed kids and educate them about nutrition.

Here’s the language you’ll see on your ballot:

Shall Denver sales and use taxes be increased $11.2 million annually, commencing January 1, 2019 and by whatever additional amounts are raised annually thereafter through December 31, 2029 from an eight one-hundredth of one percent (.08%) sales and use tax (about a penny on a ten dollar purchase) with the tax revenues being used to provide healthy food and food-based education to Denver’s kids?

How would it work?

If the initiative passes, a 13-member Denver Food Commission would be created to review applications and make grants to nonprofits and others who are already feeding kids from low-income families, holding cooking classes and doing other work to reduce hunger in a city where nearly one in five children are experiencing food insecurity or hunger and nearly 70 percent of Denver Public School students are eligible for free or reduced lunch. 

The tax would expire after a decade. Proponents say no more than 10 percent of the money raised would go to administer the program and that fresh food would be exempt from the tax.

Who’s for it and who’s against it?

The key organizer of this citizen-led initiative is Blake Angelo, former manager of food systems development in Denver’s Office of Economic Development and a former Colorado State University extension agent for Denver County. It has been endorsed by, among others, the American Heart Association, LiveWell Colorado, the Denver Rescue Mission and We Don’t Waste.

The League of Women Voters of Denver said it has seen no organized opposition to the Healthy Food for Denver Kids initiative, but notes that sales taxes hit poor and low-income Denver residents hardest.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified the key organizer. He is Blake Angelo.

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election 2018