By Clayton Chaney
At its May 4 meeting, the Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) authorized its chair, Commissioner Alvin Schaaf, to sign an application for the Health Disparities Grant Program.
The board was approached by Vanessa Skean with the county’s Food System/Food Equity Coalition earlier that day at a work session, at which time she outlined how the coalition will use the grant.
She explained that grant is through the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Office of Health Equity.
The maximum amount the county could be awarded is up to $400,000 per year, for three years.
The purpose of the grant is to address health and food systems, and identify changes needed in order to advance the health equity and provide nutrition security for members of the community, according to agenda documentation.
Skean highlighted the term “nutrition security” and how it is different from the previously used term “food security.”
She explained the term food security has been misleading in that it does not address the nutritional needs of the community.
She added the community could have food security through eating nothing but pasta, but that leaves out the need for other nutritional foods like fruits, vegetables and meats.
She added that the state has shown “extreme interest” in developing programs that will provide long-term outcomes to help address issues such as heart disease, obesity and nutrition security.
Commissioner Ronnie Maez asked during the work session what the grant would actually provide for the county.
Skean explained that it could help bring in employers and employees needed to develop additional food programs within the county.
She also spoke about how the funds could be used to address transportation issues within the community, as well to help get nutritional food to those who face transportation issues.
Maez mentioned this could be “very beneficial” for the community, given the projected growth of the county.