LiveWell’s Northwest Colorado Food Coalition brings change to local food landscape | SteamboatToday.com
YOUR AD HERE »

LiveWell’s Northwest Colorado Food Coalition brings change to local food landscape

LiveWell's Northwest Colorado Food Coalition brings lasting change to the local food landscape

About this story:

After nearly six years, the impact of LiveWell Northwest Colorado’s investment in local communities is becoming clear.

As the initiative sunsets and funding disappears in the coming years, organizers must decide how to use the remaining money to leave a lasting impression on area residents, promoting healthy eating and active living for decades to come.

This is the second in a three-part series looking at the influence LiveWell has had in Routt County.

A March 23 story focused on LiveWell's impacts in Oak Creek and a story running April 6 will describe LiveWell's impact in local schools.

— At LIFT-UP of Routt County’s food bank on Curve Court, emphasis is placed on healthy eating for clients, fresh produce from local farmers is welcomed and a new policy bans cakes, cookies and candy from the shelves.

About this story:

After nearly six years, the impact of LiveWell Northwest Colorado’s investment in local communities is becoming clear.

As the initiative sunsets and funding disappears in the coming years, organizers must decide how to use the remaining money to leave a lasting impression on area residents, promoting healthy eating and active living for decades to come.



This is the second in a three-part series looking at the influence LiveWell has had in Routt County.

A March 23 story focused on LiveWell’s impacts in Oak Creek and a story running April 6 will describe LiveWell’s impact in local schools.



The systems in place provide the healthiest options for food bank patrons and have been an ongoing topic of discussion for the Northwest Colorado Food Coalition.

Formed in 2012 by community initiative LiveWell Northwest Colorado, the food coalition has brought together numerous foodies of the region to share ways for improving access to healthy foods, and various projects and programs have been born from the discussions.

Under LiveWell’s guidance, the coalition first worked to identify the local food landscape, creating an assessment and pinpointing barriers for access to quality, locally produced foods, according to Karen Massey, director of the Routt County Extension office of Colorado State University and chair of the coalition.

Massey said the assessment provided a snapshot of Routt County’s access to a variety of foods, including finding that the region suffers from food insecurity, or a lack of suitable access.

“We did this during the economic downturn, but many of the problems persist,” Massey said.

One finding of the coalition was that Routt County’s food costs are 34 percent higher than the national average, Massey said.

“There’s a reason people have trouble making ends meet,” she said.

The coalition meets quarterly, while task forces tackle ideas involving local food, gardening and food security.

Accomplishments of the coalition have been as simple as compiling all the upcoming gardening classes and presentations onto one flier for residents to reference or as involved as crafting new policies and initiating new programs for local organizations.

“It’s been an incredible way to unite so many people in the county,” said Laura Schmidt, executive director of LIFT-UP and chair of the food security task force.

Schmidt said that upon first joining the coalition, she wasn’t sure what role it might play in shaping the policies of LIFT-UP’s food bank and other healthy-eating initiatives in the county.

“Then I realized that the people who really care about fresh, healthy food and how to get it into the hands of people in our county were right there at the table,” she said.

It was through the coalition that Schmidt was able to get the word out that LIFT-UP graciously accepts donations of fresh, local produce for its customers.

The Grow-a-Row campaign encouraged local vegetable gardeners to donate produce to LIFT-UP’s food bank, and more than 200 bags of produce were donated in 2014.

LIFT-UP also uses LiveWell “Go, Slow, Woah” programming to identify how healthy individual foods available at the food bank are.

Another of the coalition’s accomplishments is the creation of a local food worksheet and list of resources for residents interested in beginning a local food project.

The compiled resources allow aspiring food manufacturers to understand the process, regulations and paperwork involved with beginning a new local food project, allowing a better understanding of what’s involved before making an investment in a new business or project.

“We’ve gotten really good feedback from entrepreneurs,” Massey said. “It has taken away a lot of the stress.”

Yet another accomplishment of LiveWell and the food coalition is the community agriculture marketplace, which allows local residents to buy and sell produce online.

The marketplace infrastructure was funded by a LiveWell grant, and LiveWell also helped fund the transition for the Community Agriculture Alliance to run the marketplace.

“It’s a really cool program. People can buy and sell local food online,” said Michele Meyer, local food coordinator for the Community Agriculture Alliance and head of the coalition’s local food task force.

Meyer credited LiveWell for helping to begin the food coalition and then allowing it to operate independently.

“They provided the initial leadership and then slowly backed away,” Meyer said. “They were huge. I’m not sure the food coalition would have come together the way it did — and it’s been successful — without Livewell.”

Although LiveWell’s funding is being phased out over the next three years, Meyer said the coalition and its accomplishments are long-lasting.

“The food coalition will continue on,” Meyer said.

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email tristow@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow


Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.

 

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User


News

‘Dust on peak snowpack can be a menace’

Many people in the Yampa Valley make important decisions about everything from recreation to business plans based on the numbers for rain and snowfall, snow pack, cubic feet per second, wind speeds and temperatures.



See more