In Archuleta County, 8.2% of families and 11.6% of residents fell below the poverty line in 2017. The Coalition was established to understand the food system with the aim of advancing food equity in our community. Initially, it served in a network building capacity, examining food issues of interest to Coalition members. Through its continued work in the community, the Coalition identified a number of barriers to accessing affordable, nutritious food in Archuleta County, which it continues to address. The Coalition uses a participatory approach to its work. This means that the community members, participants, working groups, and partner agencies are actively engaged in identifying and reviewing strategies that drive the direction of activities. These strategies and activities are based on issues that have emerged from the community food assessment and cycles of learning.
Everyone who we work with is part of our team. We seek to be participatory and collaborative. Our team is made up of community members, youth, families, growers, producers, processors, food organizations, health care professionals, educators, and many others. In an effort to be systematic and understand issues and opportunities better, we identified three priority areas and formed groups that can work on them. The following are the groups and their mission:
Growers/Producers Group - Advance food production to increase access to fresh foods.
Community Food Organizations/Food Pantries - Listen to beneficiaries to increase access to nutritious foods and remove barriers to service.
Neighborhoods, Youth, and Families - Engage neighborhoods and families to remove barriers to accessing nutritious foods, and work with school communities to advocate for connecting hunger to health and increasing access to nutritious foods.
The Coalition is a grassroots community group that is using a participatory and action-driven approach that is process oriented, strategic and systematic. Our goal is to maintain a posture of learning in understanding our food system in our community from our community members. Our approach is informed by our values of equity, service, and humility. Our hope is to work “with” as many members of our community as possible -- learning about the food in our community in pursuit of systemic change (issues and opportunities) toward a more EQUITABLE food system.
Our Mission is to understand the food system with the aim of advancing food equity.
This community food system model serves as the framework for the Coalition’s learning and action. The Coalition is working with all aspects of this community food system model: (1) growing/producing food; (2) transforming foods for storage and market; (3) marketing and distributing food; (4) getting and preparing food; (5) eating nutritious foods; and (6) food waste prevention and resource recovery. The Coalition focuses its learning and action on the whole system as well as the individual components.