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The Colorado Food Summit
Planning Approach

The 2023 Colorado Food Summit is informed by the work of food and agricultural groups, councils, and coalitions operating across the state. Between April and June of 2023, food and ag groups were invited to share relevant planning documents, reports, assessments, meeting notes, minutes, and agendas with the Statewide Steering Committee from gatherings held between January of 2022 and June of 2023.

The Details

A list of food and agriculture events was compiled by the Colorado Food Summit State Steering Committee, the Colorado Food Systems Advisory Council, the Colorado State University Food Systems Institute and Office of Engagement and Extension, and Regional Committees. For events that did not supply relevant documents, every effort was made to collect the information, including through review of relevant websites, and discussions with key informants. Documents were coded by an external partner. Regional priorities were identified and categorized by theme and synthesized into four conference tracks for the 2023 CO Food Summit.

Summit Priorities

The priorities were shared with the Regional Committees for feedback and verification. Meetings with each of the five Regional Committees (loosely based on the CSU Around the State & In Your Community Map) were held in June 2023. The final priorities organized by Summit tracks included the 4 areas of focus below.

  • State-level procurement incentive policies including Healthy School Meals for All (HSMA), including exploring mechanisms for getting more local food procurement incentives in place, and better understanding existing policies such as HSMA.
  • Policies that directly support market access for farmers/ranchers, including those that support land access and farm to pantry programs.
  • Policy solutions for addressing the end of SNAP Emergency Allotments, such as the eHIPSNAP pilot project.
  • Understanding the Farm Bill, including mapping out all the players advocating for the 2023 Farm Bill and how the issues in the bill impacts different regions of the state. One specific issue of note: the lack of access to federal crop insurance among small, diversified farmers and how programs like the Whole-Farm Revenue Protection program may be modified to better fit small- and mid-scale farmers’ needs.
  • Policies impacting food pantry nutrition and food access (e.g., Food Pantry Assistance Grant, SNAP/DUFB, WIC)
  • Ag Labor Rights and Responsibilities Act (ALRRA) impact
  • Advocacy training on food justice issues
  • How to better distribute Agency of Aging funding to local communities
  • Impact of Colorado’s Ranch to Plate Act and tools for navigating policies related to meat sales.
  • Policy strategies such as tax incentives that support green businesses including innovative approaches to urban agriculture (e.g., vertical gardening, new lighting systems, etc.)
  • Coalition building tools and skills on how to start a coalition and how existing coalitions can be most effective, including how they can collaborate and share efforts with other coalitions and groups across the state with aligned goals.
  • Resources and support on improving mental health and wellness outcomes for farmers, ranchers, and food and farmworkers.
  • “Farm to..” (, hospital, childcare, institution, etc.) including how Healthy School Meals for All efforts may facilitate more regional-based approaches; nutrition;culturally-relevant sourcing for meals; and education through school gardens.
  • Food justice and racial and social equity issues, particularly those impacting rural residents, seniors, and immigrant and refugee communities.
  • Funding and capacity building, including more support in identifying and sharing funding options that target start-up costs and business development is needed.
  • Ag technology options including aquaponics, hydroponics, vertical farming, controlled-environment ag, virtual fencing, water conservation, and climate resilience tools.
  • Compost and organics management, including what a coordinated statewide approach looks like for managing food and ag system waste.
  • Water access and use including exploring models of adaptation and mitigation strategies used by agricultural producers
  • Land access and use including exploration of approaches to values-aligned passage/transition of land, cooperative ownership models, agritourism activities, and land justice for BIPOC farmers
  • Research including creative ways to fund research; what research exists about growing in Colorado; opportunities to support on-farm research that farmers and ranchers can do themselves; peer learning opportunities with farmers who have participated in research; farmworker health research; designing community impact assessments; and designing research as a way to inform policy.
  • Building community leadership and agency, including shifting the way that organizations think from just providing services to consulting with community members to co-create those services
  • Soil health such as exploring the latest research on how soil health impacts nutrition
  • Meat supply chain development and policy support
  • Regenerative agriculture and agroforestry including Indigenous practices and general education
  • Alternative/specialty crop production including legumes, pulses, grains, and culturally-relevant food
  • Culture bridging


  • Local supply chain development, with emphasis on processing infrastructure and capacity
  • Cooperatives and cooperativism including demonstrating a “proof of concept” for farmers and ranchers; reducing risk for farmers and ranchers to organize cooperatively; alternative models to grocery store chains; cooperative meat production and impacts of Ranch to Plate act; mutual aid structures and community-led cooperativism; how food pantries and food retailers and farmers can share resources and work cooperatively; and identifying a spectrum of opportunities for cooperativism for farmers and ranchers
  • Mobile markets in rural areas as a solution to consider for addressing both community food access and producer market access challenges, particularly in rural areas and for very small farmers.
  • Regional Food Business Center development timeline, goals, partners, and opportunities for inclusive engagement.
  • Highlighting entrepreneurship opportunities including incubator programs and pitch contests, with an emphasis on programs that support Immigrant, Refugee, and BIPOC communities.
  • Farm and food service labor issues including retention, compliance with ag labor laws, farmworker protections and health, labor trends, and solutions to workforce challenges.
  • Marketing and education including market channel and food product development, educating consumers about local food and ag practices, assessing impact of marketing on consumer choices, and analysis of trends with consumers and buyers.
  • Impact of SNAP Emergency Allotments ending, including identifying ways to meet increased food bank demands with local, fresh food in addition to exploring more permanent policy solutions to address individual and household needs.
  • Food access including the function and impact of incentive programs like SNAP/DUFB, WIC, and ProduceRx; policies that support food access goals; food access challenges impacting seniors; and food access points for more regionally-based foods/goods (e.g., grocery store co-ops, mobile markets).
  • Support for food banks and pantries, including exploring the ways farm to pantry initiatives like the Food Pantry Assistance Grant can be sustained and more inclusive, including securing or generating funding for a program’s operations, better reach seniors, and compensate food and ag producers for being part of the planning and implementation process.
  • General education about where food comes from and how to procure it
  • How to eat on a budget and make healthy meals from pantry produce


Youth Summit Planning Process

The Young Leaders Host Committee was recruited from across the state.  Their planning process started with observations from their own communities, that led to conversations across the group to surface similarities and differences. From there, the group decided on goals and purpose of the Youth Summit. The final identified themes are:

  • Food systems 101, including how to describe our whole food system
  • Opportunities and challenges in developing the local Colorado food and ag system
  • The importance of networking for systems change
  • Food waste

The students then self-selected a theme area and are building out sessions between August-October. Each host committee member is also responsible for a role in producing the actual event, such as Creative Director,  Communications Director, Guest Experience Director, and Finance Director.

For questions about the CO Food Summit planning process, reach out to Jenileigh Harris at
For questions about the Youth Summit planning process, reach out to Monique Marez at
List of food and agricultural events
influencing the 2023 Colorado Food Summit
  • Regenerative Food Systems Investment (Denver)
  • Economic Development Council of Colorado: Drive, Lead, Succeed Conference (Pueblo)
  • Regenerate Conference (Denver)
  • Rocky Mountain Farmers Union Annual Meeting (Greeley)
  • ILF/Mountain Meat Summit (Fort Collins)
  • 2023 Western Colorado Horticultural Society (Grand Junction)
  • Western Colorado Soil Health, Food, & Farm Forum (Montrose)
  • Governors Ag Forum (Denver)
  • Sun Soil Water Ag Summit (Pueblo)
  • “Farm to ….” meeting (Denver)
  • SW Meat Field Day (Montezuma)
  • AgriSummit (Salida)
  • Colorado Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association Meeting (Denver)
  • Southern Rocky Mountain Ag Conference (Monte Vista)
  • Tour Grand Junction Business Incubator Center (Grand Junction)
  • Ag Lender Meetings (Monte Vista; Rocky Ford; Akron)
  • Expand Rural Engagement Health Summit (Denver)
  • FIRA USA Conference (CA)
  • USDA Grant Producers TA training meeting (Denver)
  • Colorado Farm Bureau Annual Meeting (Denver)
  • Colorado Counties Inc. Annual Meeting (Westminster)
  • Road Map to Recovery Open House Series (Sterling; Holyoke; Yuma)
  • Colorado Food/Ag Collision (Denver)
Summit Leadership

Given the focus on leveraging food policy, we our planning committee is made up of representatives from each of the state’s food policy councils/coalitions, which are in turn representative of the diversity of Colorado’s food systems.

Stay Up to Date

We invite anyone connected to Colorado’s food system to be a part of this important discussion. Please add your email here to stay up to date with the latest information about the regional and statewide gatherings.