Collaboration turns revenue from Sugary drink tax into healthy food

EFAA is transforming funds from the new sugary drink tax, an excise tax paid by beverage distributors in the City of Boulder, into more nutritious food options for hard-working, low-income families to help them achieve and maintain healthy weight, promote health and prevent disease.

A $47,000 grant from the City of Boulder, funded in part by the sugary drink tax, will support initiatives in keeping with EFAA’s newly-adopted nutrition policy for its Boulder food pantry. This will include providing unlimited produce, nutrition education, and healthy ready-to-eat meals for busy hard-working families too strapped for time to cook a nutritious meal each night.

These meals are made possible by an innovative partnership between EFAA, Bridge House’s Ready-to-Work program and Community Food Share. Using food donated by Community Food Share and hiring Bridge House’s Community Table Kitchen, which trains and employs homeless adults to get them back on their feet, EFAA estimates approximately 20,800 delicious, nutrient-dense meals, at $1.07 per meal, will be provided to the 4,000 people who qualify for food at EFAA’s food pantry.

EFAA will also work with a nutritionist to provide food pantry shoppers nutrition information, cooking ideas, bi-monthly nutrition classes and off-site events. In addition, EFAA plans to purchase shares from local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) non-profits to augment supply of organic produce to promote healthy eating.

Food insecurity, the state of being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food, impacts 1 in 8 Boulder County residents and 1 in 6 children. About 41% of food-insecure people are unlikely to qualify for most federal nutrition assistance, which means food banks and food pantries could be their only source of food after their limited budget pays for rent. Studies show that food insecurity harms a person’s health, ability to learn, productivity and overall economic strength.

Last year, EFAA’s food pantry served about 1,700 households, with over 14,000 visits, distributing more than 700,000 pounds of food worth $1,199,042. All households requesting ongoing visits to EFAA’s food pantry have an initial holistic assessment with a professional case manager to evaluate need, provide budget counseling, and refer to other community resources as appropriate. For instance, EFAA partners with Boulder County Health and Human Services to assist participants with signing up for federal benefits such as SNAP (formerly known as food stamps), WIC, CHIP+ and Medicaid, if eligible.