Nutrition Security|Health Equity Assessment This effort involves supporting the development and implementation of a 3-year county-wide assessment process (December 2021 - December 2024) through a review of previous community food assessments and learning related to food production and access, the formation of a Community Learning Leadership Circle (CLLC) Assessment Team, the development of questions by the Assessment CLLC, design of assessment tools, protocol development, data collection/analysis, interpretation, and action seeking. The focus of the assessment for this effort is 1) food producers, 2) food pantry clients, 3) food pantry coordinators, 4) commercial kitchens, 5) meat processors, 6) farmers market coordinator, 7) primary and preventative health care providers, 8) gateway partners, and 9) others.
Increasing Access & Utilization of Primary Preventative Health Care This effort involves review, analysis, and sharing of information gathered from community members related to access and utilization of primary and preventive health care in Archuleta County. Additionally, healthcare and gateway partners have been engaged in information sharing related to primary and preventive healthcare access and utilization from their perspectives. A health team meets regularly to assist with the implementation of the assessment and the analysis of the results. This team has worked to coalesce the health care providers in Archuleta County with the aim of sharing information gathered through this process to seek lines of action to increase access and utilization of primary and preventive health care for all residents of the county. The process has yielded a desire by the health care agencies in forming a coalition/council/advisory group to break the silos and work together toward this purpose. One of the areas of focus identified by the Assessment CLLC was insurance coverage and its relationship to access to these services. Since then, a policy that was enacted by the Colorado Legislature to ensure that all Coloradans, irrespective of immigration status, have access to health insurance was made available through OmniSalud to communities in Colorado. In order to advance access to this new policy, HA has partnered with the Colorado Department of Insurance Office of Health Equity and a bilingual private health insurance broker from Durango and conducted targeted outreach to Spanish language community members to invite them to learn more about OmniSalud with the aim of increasing access to health insurance.
Increasing Local Food Production/Supply This effort involves partnering with other organizations to advance an increase in more people growing/producing food and more people getting access to local food supply through backyard gardens, commercial growers/producers, community gardens (such as Vista Lake Garden Project- VLGP), Pagosa Farmers Market (increase in vendors), and schools (Grow Dome and gardens). This process has involved supporting community members’ interest in growing food through the design and delivery of new community gardens (VLGP) and education programs offered in both English and Spanish, such as Seed to Supper. There are two groups currently working on this effort: 1) the Growers/Producers Group and 2) the Growers Forum. The latter is an invitation to all growers/producers involved in local food production to come together to work on strategic actions around increasing local food production. The former is a small group of growers that meet more frequently to take on tasks such as the Food Summit, Seed to Supper program, and the backyard growers initiative. Additionally, this process has involved identifying major themes and interconnections from the food producers’ interviews. The information was shared with the growers/producers at the Growers Forum (a gathering hosted by Healthy Archuleta once every two months) to seek their review, input, and lines of action (such as a county-wide composting system, establishment of a food hub, and mentorship support for growers/producers) that can be pursued. The companion to increasing local food production/supply is to ensure that there is a sustainable and increasing demand for the food in the community. As part of nutrition security, connecting the local food grown requires the neighbor to neighbor connection. The Food Distribution Center (FDC) serves as the vehicle for connecting the food from backyard and commercial growers/producers (through donations and/or purchases) to neighbors who visit the seven independently operated and geographically located food pantries across Archuleta County.
Increasing Food Access & Security This effort involves increasing access to both local and non-local food supplies for the benefit of food pantry clients. There are currently seven food pantries working within an informal structure of a food pantry network that meets monthly alongside the FDC Coordinator to share resources and learning related to food access and security. Information about the food pantries is made available and kept updated on the Healthy Archuleta Website. The food pantries receive food through partnership with the food bank, local grocery stores (rescue foods), and individual donations. Additionally, Healthy Archuleta has received ARPA funding from Archuleta County BOCC on behalf of the food pantries to purchase food for distribution to the food pantries in Archuleta County for their clients. This funding is primarily used to purchase local and regional fresh Colorado foods such as ground beef and fresh produce. Additionally, a system (which needs continued reflection and improvement) has been developed that continually encourages and supports backyard and commercial growers to share their produce via the FDC with food pantry clients. With regards to non-perishable items, the food pantries shared that their supply of basic canned/dry good staple foods that are often requested by pantry clients are not consistently available through donations. A volunteer-driven quarterly food drive effort presents a list of the foods to community members and invites them to fulfill these requests to further support the food pantries. The food drives are held in front of partner grocery stores, and also the list is advertised through social media, where folks can drop off donations at specific locations. Partner organizations such as banks have also participated in matching monetary donations toward this effort. This process involves learning and reflection to continue to meet the growing need of food pantry clients as a volunteer-community-support effort. Additionally, the results of the food pantry client assessment shared with the food pantry network aims to seek and inform lines of action that can increase food access and security for residents of Archuleta County.
Advancing learning about the Food System & Health Promotion/Wellness This effort has involved multiple lines of action targeting the generality of the community and specific groups such as youth. With regards to the community, “My Story,” an initiative of the Growers Group, gathered stories of growers/producers involved in the local community-based food system and shared them through the Food Summit and Media outlets. With regards to youth, two efforts have engaged groups of high school students in learning about the community-based food system. One is a partnership with Goal High School, where a group of students participated in an elective class that used PhotoVoice to engage youth, so they can contribute their learning and voice to the nutrition security component of the assessment. The other is a partnership with Pagosa Springs High School where students in the Plant Science Class (an elective) learn about the food system (through guest speaker presentations and hands-on activities with an experienced grower in the school grow dome) with the aim of contributing to a more inclusive collective understanding/action in advancing food equity. Both these efforts are supported by a Food System Team that meets regularly and works to advance its learning through the study of peer review articles while holding reflective spaces to develop related action steps. Activities related to health promotion and wellness have involved food demonstration sessions offered at the food pantries in Archuleta County by a local dietitian. These sessions offered the opportunity for pantry clients to learn about dishes that use local fresh produce, such as kale, and information related to nutrient-dense foods and other related health-promoting concepts. Additional features of this effort include children’s programming focused on eating healthy, growing local foods, cultural/traditional foods, food safety, food waste prevention, preserving and protecting healthy environments, and promoting physical activity. A need that has emerged from the assessment is both sharing information and hosting the health fair for the community at large. The holding of space aims to share information around primary and preventive healthcare access in both English and Spanish. A page has been added to the Healthy Archuleta website sharing information about these resources with the community. Additionally, with regard to the emergent interest in hosting the health fair (which has not been offered more recently in Archuleta County), further exploration will be conducted. This could also be an opportunity to offer health promotion and wellness resources to the community.
Language Equity This effort involves creating visual content, sometimes with translations for the CLAC meetings and an opportunity for the Spanish language community members to learn a lot about their Spanish community in Pagosa and make new friends. Additionally, this effort focuses on supporting the local Spanish language community members to lead and facilitate these spaces in the language of their heart and to volunteer and continue to collaborate more with others on topics that are important to them (such as food entrepreneurship, health and food access, and community safety). Some of the learning among this group has been to get more involved with the Latino People to learn, help and provide services to others. This effort also involves translating the documents that are sources of information for the Spanish language community and/or social media posts and communication for Whatsapp groups. This effort also involves others who don’t speak Spanish to show up and support their neighbors through their areas of interest and concern.
Volunteer Engagement This effort involves inviting and engaging community members who are aligned with the mission of the organization and wish to contribute their gifts, talents, and time. Currently, there is a link on the Healthy Archuleta website that allows interested community members to sign up to volunteer, offering them multiple options to select from. This database is very extensive and has more recently been brought to the forefront to more effectively engage volunteers. Additionally, community members who have participated in the efforts of Healthy Archuleta have also added their names to this list. To date, volunteers have been engaged in activities such as; operation support, food drive, event planning and implementation, team membership (such as the health team), offering translation services, garden mentoring, growing to share food, and others. There is an interest to host volunteer orientation and appreciation at least 2x/year to more effectively engage community members with the work of the organization and further support an updated and active volunteer database.
Youth Engagement This effort involves partnering with schools to engage youth, such as the Photovoice Project (Goal High School), Food System Project (Pagosa Springs High School), and Food Drive Project (Pagosa Springs Middle School). The process has involved connecting with teachers and administrators and developing strategies to get the youth involved in learning and contributing to the food system from their perspectives. This effort believes that getting students/youth involved is key for our community and activities need to focus on helping them learn and understand the importance of their involvement for the future. An interest of this effort is to form a county-wide youth CLLC from among the participants of the above-mentioned activities, who can contribute to a more systematic and strategic approach to youth engagement in advancing nutrition security and health equity.
Community Building This effort involves both building community among those who are working to advance the activities and vision of Healthy Archuleta’s priorities, and the community at large. The former involves retreats, where teams can learn about each other’s work and find synergy across multiple activities, as well as building a “safe group” where issues and topics/ideas that are normally not brought up can be discussed, such as the Spanish Equity CLAC. Additionally, a robust communication system is also required for building community and collaboration among those involved with the work of the organization. The latter effort involves participating in community activities and inviting those interested to participate in Healthy Archuleta activities/events (such as community meals, gatherings, conversations around topics such as primary health care access, garden education, food drive events, and hands-on food demo activities) with the aim of building bridges among different populations residing in Archuleta County.
Supporting and Strengthening Healthy Archuleta's Operation This effort involves growing and sustaining Healthy Archuleta’s resources, as well as its finances. Examples of resources include Leadership/Board Membership, establishing a Food Hub that has a base/system of sustainable support, as well as volunteers to advance the work related to each of the efforts undertaken by Healthy Archuleta. Financially, this effort will involve seeking grants and building up our Donor Network since grants cannot fund everything and that there is a need to build and maintain a strong fundraising plan.