When two nonprofit organizations have similar missions and serve similar communities what should they do? The Valley Food Partnership (VFP) in Montrose and the Western Colorado Food & Ag Council (WCFAC) think its time to merge. “By sharing our experience and our resources we can bring more value to the communities that we serve,” said Elaine Brett, President of WCFAC and resident of Hotchkiss.
WCFAC, a 510 (c) (3), was established in 2005 to “Enhance the Community Food System to make it more responsive to people, the environment and the economy.” The group chose to work with “on the ground” projects in Montrose and Delta counties that would have an immediate impact. Their Grow-a-Row project raised and collected thousands of pounds of fresh foods from farms and gardens for food banks and families. A Buy Fresh, Buy Local campaign raised awareness of the importance of supporting local farmers and businesses. Teens on Farms provides summer jobs and life skill for young people and helps farmers get their work done. And the Harvest Lunch Project has connected farmers with schools in the North Fork Valley to bring local meat, vegetables and fruit to the cafeterias.
The Valley Food Partnership formed in 2011 with the Montrose Community Foundation (MCF) as the fiscal sponsor. A steering committee comprised of producers, school representatives, chefs, community leaders, parents, and town staff guided the group through its first year. The group has engaged 43 Valley Food Partners and a 34-member Growing Healthy Communities coalition who are passionate about strengthening the local food system and the health of the community.
“Marketing and distribution, processing, community education, and labor issues have been priorities for VFP and we look forward to leveraging the work we have been doing in east Montrose County with WFAC efforts. The two organizations are a natural fit and we are excited about moving forward with an even broader base of support. MCF has been a wonderful incubator for our efforts and we intend to remain under the foundation as a component fund,” says Carol Parker, Coordinator of VFP.
To learn more about the new Valley Food Partnership visit www.valleyfoodpartnership.org.