DENVER (KDVR) — The Mile High City was handed the top prize in a national grant competition that aims to reward cities whose health departments are leading the way in tackling childhood obesity while elevating sustainability education.

Denver’s Department of Public Health and Environment was honored on Thursday during the 90th Annual Winter Meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors with the award for best large city to take part in the 2022 Childhood Obesity Prevention and Environmental Health and Sustainability grant program.

The program, which is a joint effort between USCM and the American Beverage Foundation for Healthy America, has named nine cities in total as winners of this year’s competition. Over the past decade, the two have awarded over $5 million to more than 60 cities that made programs to improve the quality of life of their citizens, specifically in the area of health.

“America’s beverage companies believe strongly in the power of industry and government coming together to improve the environmental health and well-being of the communities which we serve,” said Katherine Lugar, president and CEO of the ABFHA.

DDPHE’s winning project

The Denver-based effort that was implemented to draw the eye of those judging the contest was the Food Matters: Solutions for Food Waste Reduction project, which minimized food insecurity within the city of Denver. A case study they conducted revealed that 40% of the entire US food supply goes uneaten each year.

The grant funding available, which Denver will get the largest portion of as top winner, is $750,000. Specifically, DDPHE will receive $250,000 of this.

Other cities Denver beat out in the large city category were Orlando, Florida, which came in second place ($50,000) for their “PKZ Youth Beekeeper Training” program, and Baltimore, Maryland, took the third spot ($15,000) for their “Healthy Roots” program, which is to increase the number of citizens who garden, compost and practice sustainability and resilience.

Food Matters is not the only program that DDPHE has heralded over the last year to help improve the lives of those living in the Denver area.

A separate program created by DDPHE is the Emergency Food Relief Fund, which further fought hunger during the pandemic by giving approved organizations that fed communities a part of the $2.7 million in available grant money.