Pueblo County Food System Assessment

Purpose

The primary question addressed by the Food System Assessment was: “How can the local and regional food system of Pueblo County provide more safe, fresh and healthy foods to improve food access, food security, and health of all Pueblo residents?”

Approach

The Pueblo City-County Health Department worked closely with contractors from Colorado State University and WPM Consulting, LLC to develop, implement, and document the food systems assessment.

The assessment used existing reports on demographics, poverty, food security, health disparities, and nutrition in Pueblo County. Colorado State University staff also analyzed local, state, and national data sets related to agricultural inputs, production, processing, distribution and marketing, and, consumer behaviors, nutrition and public health. In addition to rigorous secondary data collection and analysis, the assessment team created meaningful opportunities to listen to and evaluate issues of local interest through surveys, interviews, focus groups, public meetings, and other engagement strategies.

Findings

  • Pueblo County faces higher obesity, food insecurity, child food insecurity, and childhood poverty rates than the state.
  • While most Pueblo residents are not eating the recommended fruits and vegetables, low-income families are disproportionately forced to compromise on healthy food consumption to make ends meet.
  • Cost and distance are consistently found to be the primary challenges to accessing more fruits and vegetables across the county.
  • After full-service grocery stores, fast food is the most commonly reported source of all foods in the county.
  • There is a strong desire for access to more fresh and local foods, and therefore a need for more direct farm-to-market sales in the county.
  • Commonly selected means for increasing fruit and vegetable consumption that could be addressed as a community included more farmer’s markets, more produce stands, better fruit and vegetable selection at the grocery store, and community gardens.
  • Desire to improve food and nutrition skills and education, such as knowing how to prepare or grow your own foods.
  • There is potential to expand fruit and vegetable production, which is contingent on creating new market opportunities within the region, based on residents’ food preferences, and a willingness to pay for preferred fruits and vegetables.
  • Technical and business development support for new farmers is critical so they can take advantage of opportunities to enter agriculture and develop sustainable operations.

For additional information about the Food System Assessment contact
(719) 583-4432.

The Alliance for Food Access, comprised of individuals and organizations focused on the availability of affordable, healthy food for all Pueblo County residents.

The Alliance for Food Access may be contacted at (719) 583-4311.

Read the report here: Pueblo County Food System Assessment Public Health & Food Access Report 2013