The Gila Valley boasts an impressive variety of local agricultural growers and food producers across the region. Obtaining quantitative data, however, on consumer buying patterns, hunger and food access gaps, and marketplace access/interest in healthy produce, heritage foods, and/or locally sourced products is currently unavailable.
“We think of malnourishment as they just don’t have food, but what it really is you’re eating Doritos for meals or other processed foods. And there’s not enough high-quality produce (or) there’s not enough knowledge about how to cook it up and make it tasty,” Bryce said.
To begin to address this lack of data, Local First AZ has partnered with the NAU W.A. Franke College of Business and Economic Policy Institute and United Way of Graham & Greenlee Counties on a research study that will gather market data on a Food Security study for Graham, Greenlee County, and the San Carlos Apache Nation.
“They’re looking at where people are getting their food, so that’s helpful for business, for our side of things for people interested in getting in that market,” said Vance Bryce, executive director for the Graham County Chamber of Commerce during a recent appearance on Voice of the Valley. “But they’re also looking at where there is a food desert.”
This data will be used to guide the additional phases of this project and will be provided to Food Coalition partners like the Graham and Greenlee County Health Departments, food pantries, Farmer’s Markets, and other food stakeholders in these communities.
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