About the Initiative
Sprouting Sandoval is a series of Community Services Department initiatives designed to improve health at the individual, family, and community level. Health Starts with Self is among its core values while we work to promote locally-sourced, healthy, nutritious foods as an essential factor for a healthy life and healthy community through the (re)investment in our Heritage Farmers. These health education and outreach programs will be done through a multiplicity of mediums: experiential learning activities, art, lecture, food service contracts with local growers, and more. Sprouting Sandoval is intended to plant seeds towards a health-filled sustainable Sandoval future.
Importance of Sprouting Sandoval Initiatives
- Place Matters: Proven studies that demonstrate zip code as among the largest determinants of health. We see this in Sandoval County as we continue to mega-source “food” from elsewhere, eroding our economy of what was once a flagship farming hub.
- We really are what we eat: The devastating impact of heart disease, proven preventable through lifetime lifestyle choices of regular exercise and healthy diets rich in plant-based foods.
- Public Pennies, Public Health, and the Power of Procurement: Imagine if all food-purchasing government and quasi-government entities within Sandoval County were to pool their collective bargaining power (both hospitals, all schools, the County and relevant municipalities); it would change the name of the game and put community health first. Simply put, when you put profit before people, people lose. Period.
Sprouting Sandoval Initiatives
The Let’s Cook! initiative is a multigenerational cooking program offered by Kids Cook! which provides families with experiential learning opportunities about the importance of healthy eating habits. The curriculum includes farm-to-table family activities and concludes with a communal meal. This program was launched in the fall of 2017 in Pena Blanca, which was followed by the Jemez Valley in the spring of 2018. Funding permitting, the Community Services Department can offer this program throughout other regions in Sandoval County in the future.
Mobile Food Pantry
Sandoval County’s Community Services Department offers Mobile Food Pantry services targeting rural, underserved populations inclusive of locally-sourced, healthy foods. St. Felix was awarded this competitive contract and in partnership with the Community Services Department, this service commenced in January of 2018 using the Pena Blanca Community Center , Village of Cuba Senior Center, and Jemez Valley Senior Center as distribution sites.
Fresh Possibilities Farm
One initiative for Sprouting Sandoval was to help develop local farms and contract with them to eventually, over time, scale supply to meet the demand needs of Sandoval County’s Food Nutrition Program. Fresh Possibilities Farm is an innovative organic farm based in Pena Blanca and is our first partner planting crops exclusively for the Community Services Department Food Nutrition Services program.
Food Nutrition Bureau Without Age Restrictions
The Community Services Department created a Food Nutrition Services Bureau which was unrestricted in regards to age, as hunger does not discriminate. The bureau is headed with a seasoned and experienced Food Services Manager to help professionalize the staff, the service, and more robustly tackle hunger while focusing on locally-sourced healthy foods.
Master Gardeners Program & Seed2Need
The Master Gardener’s program was relocated to the Sandoval County main administration campus in Bernalillo to make their services more accessible to the public. As part of the Master Gardener’s Program they partner with Seed2Need in Corrales which grows healthy fruits and vegetables for local food pantries. The partnership with the Master Gardeners Program and Seed2Need ensures equity of access and affordability of locally sourced foods for all county residents.
The Community Services Department is expanding the canning center opportunities for the community, up to and including having select County staff facilitate canning workshops among community and senior centers. The County largely funds the Canning Center operated by NMSU, in conjunction with Jemez Valley Schools. Canned goods and canning opportunities are a lifeline for many residents in that region, especially when preparing for the cold winter months.
Honoring Heritage: Farming Then & Now
You know the old saying, “Food is Medicine?” Well, Sandoval County’s Community Services Department set out to explore its meaning in action, along with the old and new ways of farming, with family growers during the planting season of 2018. In partnership with Sound Seed Productions, we sat down with first to fourth generation farmers to record oral histories of their farming and food practices, challenges, and big ideas for the future of small farming. So let’s introduce you to some of your neighbors through their own voices and photographs.
La Comida es Medicina (Food is Medicine)
La Comida es Medicina (Food is Medicine) is part of a greater initiative by local artist Jade Leyva that exhibited throughout North America including at the National Hispanic Cultural Center. SEEDS: A Collective Voice aims to educate communities about the health impact of locally sourced plants and the importance of supporting locally-sourced growers through the collective creation of community mosaic murals made from local seeds. During visits to classrooms and community centers residents participate in the murals made from seeds while subject experts lead discussions to raise awareness on related topics such as community health and nutrition, organics, plant-based foods, the importance of seed and bee preservation and their connection to a healthy environment, among others. The La Comida es Medicina mural was titled in representation of CSD’s mission and is a perfect symbol of the intent behind Sprouting Sandoval. The mural was cut into quadrants initially and sent throughout the County so that many hands of all ages and sizes could participate in its completion. The mural is now permanently installed on the second floor of the County Administration Building and all are encouraged to stop by and see it!
From the Soils of Sandoval
From the Soils of Sandoval was a partnership between the Community Services Department and professional artists Geraldine Brussel and BethAnne Bethel, both of whom are Sandoval County residents and actively engaged with our Senior Centers. Together they conducted a series of professional art workshops at select Senior and Community Centers with canvas art featuring locally-sourced healthy native foods (apples, squash, watermelon…). These professionally-facilitated art pieces created by local residents was showcased as a collection in the spring of 2018, and now these pieces adorn the walls of dining areas among the Centers as part of community health outreach and education.