PUEBLO – Pueblo Food Project was awarded a $200,000 grant to bring fresh, healthy, and local food to every Puebloan’s table by the Colorado Health Foundation.
The grant will help Pueblo Food Project, a community-led coalition, to implement its core mission of building a more equitable and sustainable food system in Pueblo County.
“We are so grateful and excited to receive this grant award,” said Monique Marez, coordinator of the Pueblo Food Project. “This will allow us to put into action all the great ideas the coalition came up with to improve our food system.”
The Pueblo Food Project is rethinking the Steel City’s food system, which looks at where and how the food is grown and that meat and produce gets into restaurants, homes, and non-profits.
One of the project’s goals is to create more ways to offer farm-fresh food closer to the areas that are considered a food desert for Pueblo. These are the areas where access to healthy and affordable food is a problem for residents.
A recent community survey by the project found 66% of Pueblo respondents wanted a farmer’s market or produce-stand closer to where they lived. Nearly 40% of respondents wanted the project to improve the affordability of food in Pueblo.
“Food connects every one of us, and we are eager to implement these strategies that will help the community,” said Marez. “This grant will help us do that.”
Earlier this year, the Pueblo Food Project worked with the farmer’s market at Mineral Palace so they would be able to accept SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) payments.
COVID-19 has created new challenges for the project to addresses as food insecurity intensified by the pandemic.
In September, the Pueblo Food Project delivered 200 care packages for the Boys and Girls Club with produce, meat, soap, and bread from local businesses of Mauro Farms, Bay’s Meat Market, Formulary 55, and Zoelsmann’s Bakery. The project has distributed 1400 care packages overall with plans for more later this year.
“The Pueblo Food Project is building off Pueblo’s reputation of being Colorado’s garden to give eaters more options for fresh and healthy food,” said Mayor Nick Gradisar.
The project, which consists of over 100 active community members and organizations from farmers, restaurants, non-profits, and community stakeholders – was formed in 2019 after Senator Michael Bennet, along with Walter Robb, former CEO of Whole Foods, convened a group of stakeholders to focus on Pueblo’s food systems.
It is the community spirit that has led to early successes, said Marez, “We are eager to implement strategies that we developed in our community for our community. Anyone in Pueblo can participate and contribute to this process.”
The City of Pueblo is the fiscal agent for the Pueblo Food Project. The grant will help fund the project for the next two years.