Jul 202010
Authors: Nick Childs

A team, comprised of a mixture of CSU faculty and students, is conducting research to assess all aspects of food in Northern Colorado.

Dawn Thilmany McFadden, professor of agriculture and resource economics at CSU, said the team held public meetings in Larimer, Weld and Boulder counties to report findings.

“It is one of the more complete food assessments that has been done in the country,” said Thilmany McFadden, CSU coordinator for the Northern Colorado Regional Food Assessment Project.

The team is made up of Thilmany McFadden, Martha Sullins, an agriculture and resource economics research associate, and several graduate students.

Thilmany McFadden brought the group together by finding students that she felt would add to the assessment in different ways to look at the project from all angles, she said.

This “interactive” program looks at all aspects of food, she said. They gather information about the land and water used in production, the food retailers and nutrition issues involved with food in Northern Colorado.

The research group will continue to gather data in the various counties and report back the findings in order to show each county where its strengths and weaknesses are and help prioritize what work needs to be done, she said.

Her goal: to expose all food-related weaknesses in Northern Colorado.

“We have already seen things start to pop up, even though we aren’t done,” Thilmany McFadden said, citing changes in school lunch programs and emergency disaster plans.

In wake of natural disasters, there are “master” plans set up for relief efforts and transportation, but no plans for getting fresh food to victims, she said.

Hurricane Katrina, she said, showed a lack of ability to provide food for those affected by emergencies and disasters.

Schools also see issues in freshness, Thilmany McFadden said, and some plans have been put into place plans to combat unhealthy lunches.

In working with the Farm to School program, a national initiative, various school districts in Northern Colorado, including Poudre Valley, are receiving food directly from farms to insure better freshness and nutrition of the food, Thilmany McFadden said.

One of the main objectives that Larimer County has for this project is to “begin to explore options farm families have for sustainability,” said Linda Hoffmann, director of the Building and Planning Services division for Larimer County.

The county, she said, is also trying to identify gaps in the food system. She cited several instances in which the Northern Colorado Regional Food Assessment Project has introduced people within the food system to other areas.

The team reports findings to the individual counties and suggests the best solutions to any problems discovered; the counties then try to solve the problems in a way that they best see fit.

This project is important for CSU, Thilmany McFadden said, because “it shows (CSU) playing a proactive role.”

Staff Writer Nick Childs can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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