The City Council took steps to make it so Monday, approving special revenue funds for the Healthy Food for Denver’s Kids and the Caring 4 Denver programs. Also approved in the omnibus vote were funds for college and parks measures that also won at the ballot in November.
Almost $12 million was appropriated for the healthy food fund and $37 million for Caring 4 Denver for 2019. The parks fund got just over $37 million and the college fund almost $12 million for the year.
Denver voters approved a citizen-led initiative to increase the sales tax by .08 percent to create the healthy kids fund. A 13-member Denver Food Commission will 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.
State Rep. Leslie Herod was a powerful voice for Caring 4 Denver, another citizen initiative. It increased the sales tax by .25 percent to improve mental and behavioral health care services. Another 13-member board will administer its grants, to organizations working in mental health care, addiction reduction, housing and other areas.
Voters increased the sales tax by 0.25 percent to acquire land for parks, open spaces, and trails and maintain and improve new and existing recreational areas. Denver’s manager of parks and recreation and an advisory board must come up with a five-year plan for using the money for City Council to approve.
The College Affordability Fund depends on a sales tax of 0.08 percent to create scholarships, tutoring programs and other support for Denver residents who are earning a degree from a public or not-for-profit college, university, community college, or technical school in Colorado.