By Clayton Chaney
At a special meeting held Tuesday, Nov. 30, the Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners voted to approve an award of $50,000 to the Archuleta County Food Systems/Food Equity Coalition.
After splitting funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act with the Town of Pagosa Springs, Archuleta County’s share of the funds was approximately $601,750.
After recently updating the projected costs of all participating entities that have received grants coming from the $601,750, the county was left with $50,000 to allocate to another entity, the meeting’s agenda explains. In order for the funds to be used, the county is required to spend it before the end of this calendar year.
County Administrator Scott Wall presented the proposal to the board.
“I think it’s a worthy and eligible project,” Wall commented.
The commissioners received a letter from Vanessa Skean of the coalition outlining possible plans of action for the use of this funding and the needs throughout the community that still need to be addressed.
The letter notes that the food coalition has been working on food relief efforts throughout the community since the beginning of the pandemic in March.
The letter goes on to state, “We believe there is still a need for food in our community due to the pandemic and would like to collaborate with the County Commissioners to use funding from the COVID Relief Fund for this purpose.”
Skean’s letter also explains that the coalition purchases as much food from local businesses as possible, therefore supporting local businesses and the community with grant funding.
Wall noted during his presentation that the coalition is looking to use part of the funding for holiday meals.
Skean’s letter acknowledges the coalition’s intent to provide “Holiday Meal Boxes for families of school children.”
The meal boxes could be delivered through a partnership with a local transportation service, the letter explains.
The coalition plans to distribute holiday meal boxes through food pantries as well.
Another planned use of the funds includes a plan to provide “Prepared Holiday Meals in collaboration with local restaurants for distribution to the families of school children,” Skean’s letter states.
The food coalition also plans to provide prepared meals through local restaurants for households that are “receiving services from food pantries/identified through the health sector, DHS, Rise Above Violence, Aspire, and Family Resource Center,” according to Skean’s letter.
Other plans outlined in Skean’s letter include:
“• A mobile food pantry to provide food boxes to vulnerable populations
“• Purchase bread from local bakers and food pantry clients
“• Purchase wholesale items for distribution through the food pantries including chicken, butter, cheese, and pre-packaged frozen fish
“• Purchase Community supported Agriculture (CSA) shares through regional growers to provide fresh produce through the food pantries.”
The meeting was held and adjourned within five minutes, with the food coalition’s CARES Act funding proposal being the only item on the meeting’s agenda.
Wall asked the commissioners if they had any questions about the proposal, to which Commissioner Steve Wadley said, “We’re not going to have any.”
Wadley pointed out the restaurant he owns will not be financially affected by this grant to the food coalition.