Food Coalition engages community on several fronts

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    Photo courtesy Vanessa Skean/Food Coalition
    Mr. and Mrs. Cliff Davis, local producers, with Vanessa Skean and Nicolai of the Archuleta Food Coalition. The Davis’ recently donated over 300 pounds of grass-fed beef to the Food Coalition which is being distributed through the Food Pantry Network and partner food organizations.

    By Pauline Benetti
    Archuleta Food Coalition

    The Archuleta Food Coalition is always busy, actively engaged in the local food system, working with the community for the benefit of all consumers and producers with the needs of those who require more affordable food always in mind. 

    Right now, community engagement is intense and very exciting, as a quick review will reveal.

    Let’s start with the $20,000 funding that the coalition has put forward to attract community proposals for projects that will both increase the local food supply and help make food more affordable for those who need that. 

    Monday of the last week was a Virtual Idea Collection session, which had good attendance and some excellent ideas, with Idea Collection continuing at Pagosa Springs High School and the food pantries. Any community member with an idea is invited to email fsfearchuleta@gmail.com for an immediate response to questions. 

    Project presentation will take place from Nov. 6-12 and voting on the winning proposal will occur from Nov. 14-22. For a quick review of the process and the timeline, those interested should consult the Coalition website, https://www.foodcoalition4archuleta.org, and click on Participatory Budgeting.

    A weekly event is the Wednesday Community Conversation where all kinds of lively topics relevant to community life and our food system are explored. Last week was particularly exciting. We heard from Dr. Amy Smith, working in the Boston area, who introduced her program involving partnerships between health care organizations and community food organizations. She explained how primary care providers and community food organizations and programs work together to make sure that community members have access to the healthy, nutritious foods they need. 

    The idea was greeted with excitement by our local health care providers and representatives of the WIC and SNAP food programs. Efforts are now underway to understand how that program might be implemented locally. Several upcoming community conversations will focus on the connections between food and our health. Email fsfearchuleta@gmail.com for the Zoom link to our Community Conversations from 2 to 3 p.m. on Wednesday.

    And then the Food Pantry Network — Community United Methodist Church, John Paul II Catholic Church, St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church, Amazing Grace Church, Restoration Fellowship and the TARA Community Center — and community food organizations — Loaves and Fishes and the Senior Center — have their exciting news. We received 1,500 pounds of freshly harvested apples from the CSU Yellow Jacket Research Station near Cortez; disbursements went to elementary school, middle school and Pagosa Peak Open School; food pantries; Seeds of Learning; and the Department of Human Services. 

    And, second, we received 365 pounds of local, USDA-inspected, grass-fed beef donated by a local community member; the recipients love getting hamburger meat at the pantries. 

    Then, the Community Foundation serving Southwest Colorado is using grant funding to procure truckloads of nonperishable items for distribution to the community. In addition, these grant funds are supporting our local business. Also, 150 loaves of home-baked bread from a Cottage Food Certified baker, along with other locally produced foods, are making it to our community members through the pantries and their partners. We couldn’t have done this without the support of the community contributions. 

    Our Youth Group is also contributing to the excitement. This week, the youth team bagged nearly 300 bags of the apples that came from the CSU Yellow Jacket Research Station and delivered them to Pagosa Springs Elementary School parent/teacher conferences for parents to take home following their conference with teachers. Go, youth team. If you’re interested in becoming a part of the youth team, DM our Instagram or Facebook page.

    Finally, the new website is launched — https://www.foodcoalition4archuleta.org — we invite you to take a look and discover what you did not know about our local food supply and get involved with the coalition. We also ask you to like us on Facebook at Food Coalition 4 Archuleta County or follow us on Instagram at foodcoalition4archuleta.