Thursday, May 5, 2011

Action Alert: Childhood Nutrition & Food Access

(To jump to the sample email, look for the Action Alert below.)

We are making great progress in lobbying City Council to pass the Food Producing Animals (FPA) ordinance. However, there are still a few Councilmembers who are either on the fence or stating that they won't vote for it. I would think it'd be hard to vote against hungry or at-risk kids and families. So, let's remind them what this ordinance is about.

There are lots of children and families -- right here in Denver -- that don't have access to healthy food, or enough food. We need to make this point clear to City Council. When they vote on the FPA ordinance, there are bigger issues at stake than "neighborhood context" and whether a few people think that chickens belong out in the country.

Over the course of this process, I've heard from some of you that having backyard animals would make it easier to feed your family. If this is the case, please be sure to include your own personal testimony in your Action Alert email.

Action Alert

As always, please feel free to craft your own email from scratch, modify the sample email below, or use the sample email in its entirety.

Please copy and paste the following text (including commas) for the "To" field of your email:,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Subject line: Food access and childhood nutrition

Dear Members of City Council,

I am a resident of Denver, living in the ______ neighborhood. You will soon be asked to vote on a Food Producing Animals (FPA) ordinance, which will streamline the process for Denver families who want to raise a limited number of fowl and dwarf goats. The proposed ordinance isn't just about reducing food miles, or avoiding contamination from factory-farmed food, or owning a few cute hens. It's also about making healthy, affordable, accessible food available to families that are struggling to meet their food needs. 

There are lots of children and families -- right here in Denver -- that don't have access to healthy food, or enough food. Food insecurity and the health consequences of inadequate childhood nutrition are serious problems. When the only "food" easily accessible within a community comes from a convenience store, or when processed food can be purchased for a fraction of the price of fresh food, there are consequences. 

Denver families need improved access to healthy, affordable food. Just a few bits of information:

- At the Valdez school in northwest Denver, 73% of the students qualify for free school lunch. (North Denver Tribune, )
- In 2010, 53,800 Denver kids were available for free or reduced-price school lunches. Once school let out, only 8 out of 100 kids children who ate free or reduced-priced school lunches ate a summer lunch in July 2010. (Hunger Free Colorado, )
- 8.8% of the population in Colorado is on food stamps.  The year-to-year rise is food stamp use is 11.2%. (Wall Street Journal, )
- 37.2% of Denver's children are obese. Not overweight -- obese. (Kids Count data survey, 2009. )

Passing a sensible Food Producing Animals ordinance, as other cities have done, is a step toward improving healthy food access and helping improve the pervasive issue of food deserts. This is a way to address a real problem, and it doesn't require big grants or elaborate investments from the city. All you need to do is replace the current excessive barriers with common-sense regulations, and allow people to provide for themselves and their families. Please vote in favor of the Food Producing Animals ordinance.

(your name)

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