First Nations Development Institute recently published a new report – Growing Food Sovereignty in Native Communities: Impact Report 2015-2016 – that illustrates the significantly positive impact its work has had on Native American communities under First Nations’ participation in the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community’s (SMSC) Seeds of Native Health campaign.
First Nations was the largest of the SMSC’s inaugural partners in its groundbreaking Seeds of Native Health campaign, which was launched in 2015. Because of First Nations’ “longstanding expertise in efforts to eliminate food insecurity, build the health of communities, and support entrepreneurship and economic development,” it received $1.4 million from the SMSC for re-granting to and management of projects relating to food access, food sovereignty, and capacity building. During 2015 and 2016, First Nations managed 30 separate grants under the program, supporting tribes and Native organizations in numerous states across the U.S.
“Most of Indian Country is in a dietary health crisis. Supporting local efforts to build community gardens and provide access to fresh foods for vulnerable populations is critical to improving Native peoples’ well-being,” said SMSC Chairman Charles R. Vig. “First Nations’ incredible expertise in this area has made them an ideal partner to help tribes and communities address this crisis.”
Growing Food Sovereignty in Native Communities finds that the grants from First Nations led to the community partners/grantees generating 63,613 pounds of harvested vegetables, 56,385 pounds of harvested wild rice, 1,572 pounds of harvested fruit, and 102 pounds of grown medicine, in addition to the more than 250,000 fish that were harvested. Fully 89 percent of these foods and medicines were donated to community members for subsistence purposes. The estimated food revenue that was saved and/or earned was $1.75 million, with the local communities leveraging an additional $1.56 million to support their community projects. These efforts served a total of 6,319 people, including 1,386 elders and 2,555 Native youth.
Efforts included community gardens and smoke houses, farmers’ markets, farm-to-school programs, classes, workshops and other activities. In addition, 129 new jobs and 859 food-related businesses were created or supported, nine new tribal food policies were developed, and two new traditional foods curricula were prepared. First Nations also provided technical assistance and training to grantees to assist with the long-term sustainability of programs, including topics such as strategic planning, business planning, financial recordkeeping, project management, and various specialized technical trainings. The report also highlights lessons learned from community partners that can further food sovereignty and nutrition for Native communities and other partners, including funders. The complete numbers can be found in the report.
“There is a vibrant and active food sovereignty movement taking place in Native communities, and the Seeds of Native Health campaign has been a tremendous asset in furthering the work of this dynamic, Native-led movement,” noted Raymond Foxworth, First Nations Vice President of Grantmaking, Development and Communications. “The Growing Food Sovereignty in Native Communities report documents Native innovation when it comes to community-led solutions to improving local food systems and Native nutrition. First Nations is honored to be a partner of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community and the Seeds of Native Health campaign that will have a lasting impact in growing strong and healthy Native communities.”
Growing Food Sovereignty in Native Communities is available as a free download from the Knowledge Center on First Nations’ website at http://www.firstnations.org/knowledge-center/foods-health/research. (Note: The Knowledge Center requires a free online account in order to download the report and access numerous other free resources.)
The full list of grant recipients can be seen in the report or at http://www.firstnations.org/programs/foods-health.