DENVER — The Colorado Department of Agriculture has hired Mickey Davis to lead the new Community Food Access Program in CDA’s Markets Division. In her position, she will oversee the creation of the new program that aims to improve availability and affordability of healthy food in communities across Colorado that struggle with food access.
“Mickey is a fantastic addition to the CDA team, bringing with her the passion and experience needed to build and administer the Community Food Access Program,” said Tom Lipetzky, Director of CDA’s Markets Division. “This program will help CDA make connections between producers and communities that need access to healthy, nutritious, Colorado Proud food to build a more resilient food system. Mickey’s experience working with food access organizations will lay a solid foundation for her work to develop this new program.”
As the Program Manager, Davis will oversee the creation and administration of the Community Food Access Program, which will create an up-to $8 million grant program to assist small grocery retailers and Colorado farmers in expanding their infrastructure to provide healthy food in communities across Colorado. The program was created under HB22-1380 to support small retailers and establish a community food consortium for small food retailers and Colorado-owned and Colorado-operated farms.
“I’m looking forward to the challenges and opportunities of managing the Community Food Access Program in Colorado to ensure communities across the state have reliable and affordable access to fresh, nutritious, Colorado Proud food,” said Mickey Davis, Community Food Access Program Manager. “My experience in managing food access programs will allow me to build on my previous relationships while establishing new connections throughout Colorado.”
Persistent food deserts, the rising cost of food, supply chain issues, and economic difficulties initiated by the COVID-19 pandemic have exacerbated food access and security challenges in Colorado. In April 2021, Hunger Free Colorado surveyed Colorado residents and found that one in three Coloradans reported some degree of food insecurity, up from fewer than one in 10 before the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, small food retailers tend to have higher prices for fresh and perishable foods compared to large food retailers because they face pallet break fees and lack cold storage to store higher quantities of perishable foods.
The Program Manager will help set up an advisory committee for the program and a grant program to administer one-time grants, not to exceed $25,000, to improve infrastructure and help with business operating costs in order to increase access to fresh food in underserved communities. The program details will be developed in partnership with stakeholders, with the goal to begin issuing grants to smaller retailers and farmers in the spring or early summer.
The legislation also requires the program to create a consortium to provide technical assistance and connect small food retailers to help in purchasing negotiations. Additionally, the role will help develop a strategy for outreach to connect small food retailers and small farmers in communities across Colorado. The Program Manager will help individual communities identify their specific needs to ensure partnerships with nonprofits meet their needs.
Mickey Davis previously worked as the Food Access Specialist at Boulder County Farmers Markets, managing Healthy Food Incentive Programs. Mickey has spent her career working across the spectrum of the food system: on small farms, in retail produce, in food and nutrition education, at farmers markets, in food policy councils, and in food service. She brings a focus on sustainability and equity to all her work.
Mickey graduated from University of California, Berkeley, with a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition Science: Physiology and Metabolism and holds a master’s degree in Public Health from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She is also a Registered Dietitian, and holds an Adjunct Professorship at Durham Tech Community College, teaching Introduction to Nutrition. She lives in Boulder with her partner and enjoys running on trails in every part of Colorado.
–Olga Robak, Colorado Department of Agriculture