Mayor Nick Gradisar announced the City of Pueblo was awarded $85,000 in grant funding from The Colorado Health Foundation. The Foundation takes a multifaceted approach to health by investing in nonprofits, communities and the public and private sectors that are dedicated to advancing health and health equity. Thanks to this grant, the Pueblo Food Project and newly formed Pueblo Food Council will continue work which began less than one year ago to further investigate opportunities and develop strategies to advance local food systems to address food insecurity, food sustainability and economic development in the food and agriculture sector.
The Pueblo Food Project, co-chaired by Pueblo Mayor Nick Gradisar and Pueblo County Commissioner Chris Wiseman, 9-month planning grant scope of work focuses on research and development of a community-driven strategic plan to address food system and food access gaps in the City and County of Pueblo, Colorado. Building strategies that strengthen food systems will address the many complex issues related to food access and increasing access to local healthy food, job creation, community development and economic growth.
On October 1, 2019 a draft of the Pueblo Food Project Report and Action plan released was a compilation of reports submitted and input from the large group of participating organizations and stakeholders. Stakeholders worked collectively to establish a local food council and identify areas where we can work together to make a difference.
By way of introduction to that report, Mayor Gradisar wrote, “The Pueblo Food Project Report & Action Plan for 2019-2024 is not only a vision, but a call to action for citizens, organizations and agencies to join forces to build community and strengthen economic development in local food systems. It is an honor to support and collaborate with the Pueblo Food Council to move this plan forward. We are just beginning. Surrounding Pueblo’s food industry with local support is crucial, and the newly formed Pueblo Food Council and the diverse stakeholders working together to support this work is a step in the right direction.”
County Commissioner, Chris Wiseman wrote, “The Pueblo Food Project worked with many local organizations, institutions of higher education, community groups, not-for-profit organizations, health professionals, small business owners and consumers during the summer of 2019. The project grew from the efforts of a small group…to thirty participants by May and almost eighty as of this writing. I commend the work of these individuals on their foresight and leadership in creating a framework to address the challenges facing our food system. It is important to have sustainable, healthy food systems for the entire County.”
The purpose of the Pueblo Food Council is to work in concert with a diverse group of stakeholders to identify opportunities and challenges in local food systems, research and develop actionable plans, inspire change and connect resources. The group’s mission is to build a sustainable food system that supports healthy people, environments and the economy through networking, advocacy and education. To that end, the work proposed centers on five core values: Food Economy, Food Access, Farm & Food Literacy & Education, the Environment, and Advocacy.
In Pueblo, there has been a decline not only in growing food, but also in processing and manufacturing, packaging and distributing local food. Also, there has been a decline in neighborhood grocers leaving food deserts behind. The group effort to create a community-driven strategic plan resulted in a renewed focus, with diverse stakeholders joining forces to return to our historic roots as a rich agriculture center, reinforce the importance of local food and agriculture and collectively impact this work in our communities. This 9-month planning project aligns with Goal 2 of the Colorado Blueprint to End Hunger, “Increase the number of Coloradans who can access affordable, nutrition food in their communities.”