Food Systems and Equity

Denver, Colorado

How we eat, what we eat, and where our food comes from are complex and inextricably linked questions in both the United States and the world. The reality is that our access to food and our choices of the food we eat has serious consequences for health, wellbeing, and even our future success.

This program examines food agency as a social justice issue in Colorado, exploring how access to food is linked to socioeconomic status, geography, race, and health. We build understanding of the complexity of food systems and the challenges to food equity in Colorado through the juxtaposition of rural and urban food systems, and through hands-on immersion and engagement with various actors in the industry. Immersive and service learning experiences will be intentionally scaffolded by informed and contextually-grounded education that prepares students to dive in and deeply engage.

GOALS And Objectives

  • Food Equity and Access

    Students better understand the influence of geography and money on what (and how) we we eat

  • Sustainable Business Models

    Students explore the realities of balancing mission and the bottom line

  • Relationships to Food

    Students re-assess their own relationship to food

Program Elements


Food Scarcity and Distribution

We the concept of healthful food scarcity and food “deserts” in the city of Denver through a mapping exercise of available fresh food and distance from low-income neighborhoods. Students learn about distribution mechanisms between farms and local grocery stores and restaurants and build a better understanding of food supply chains in a major metropolitan area.



We engage in a service learning project on a local farm, learning about the typical responsibilities of different roles. Working outside in the fresh air alongside one another where the fruits of our labor are tangible and visible at day’s end gives our team the sastifaction of a hard day’s work, completed together.


Flower Farms

We explore supply chains through an industry with one of the shortest farm-to-store supply chains: cut flowers. We learn how flower producers farm, harvest, and distribute cut flowers in Colorado. We learn about how local farms must compete with global markets during the off-season,



Students learn how aquaponics is used to harvest the waste produced by farmed catfish on-site to supply nutrients for plants grown hydroponically, which in turn purify the water.


GrowHaus Farm

The GrowHaus is a nonprofit indoor farm, marketplace and educational center in Denver’s Elyria-Swansea neighborhood. Their mission is to create a community-driven, neighborhood-based food system by serving as a hub for food distribution, production, education, and economic development.



Students tour one of Colorado’s largest producers of sustainably farmed beef and learn about how livestock are managed on a major commercial farm. Students also build understanding of the Sustainable Farming movement and the challenges it seeks to tackle.