First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) recently announced its new grantees under its Nourishing Native Children: Feeding Our Future Project that is generously supported by funding from the Walmart Foundation. The 10 grants, of $15,000 each, total $150,000.
The effort provides grants to Native American communities to continue or expand nutrition resources for existing programs that serve American Indian children ages 6-14. For many Native children, meals provided by their school, nonprofit service provider, or through a take-home food program (often called “backpack” programs), may be the most consistent and/or nutritionally-balanced food they receive. The project’s two-fold goal is to support Native American community-based feeding programs, and to learn from these programs and other model programs about best practices, challenges, barriers to success, and systemic and policy issues affecting Native children’s hunger, and to foster partnerships among programs.
The grantees are:
- Akwesasne Boys & Girls Club, Akwesasne, New York – This program provides 100 children from low-income homes from the Akwesasne Mohawk Reservation with hunger relief during weekends and for when school is out for breaks. The program benefits the neediest children attending Akwesasne Boys & Girls Club, St. Regis Mohawk School, and Akwesasne Freedom School as well as children receiving services through local domestic violence shelters. Educational outreach to families highlights other available food resources.
- Fremont County School District 38, Arapahoe, Wyoming – The program at Arapahoe School provides take-home backpacks each Friday at school dismissal, with nutritionally balanced food items. The program also provides family engagement opportunities that support household budgeting, health and wellness, as well as awareness of traditional foods. Educational lessons relative to the school’s greenhouse are provided.
- Keres Children’s Learning Center (KCLC), Cochiti Pueblo, New Mexico – The “Nourishing Native Iiwas” program takes KCLC’s existing food and nutrition policies to the next level. It will raise awareness of health within the KCLC school community and in the broader Cochiti community, while emphasizing recipes prepared with fresh, locally grown and healthy produce.
- Lower Brule Community College, Lower Brule, South Dakota – The “Bountiful Backpack Program” improves the nutritional quality of meals eaten at home by children and their families by developing cooking, food safety and recipe-preparation skills for participants, and includes linking nutrition education and preparation with food that is sent home in backpacks.
- Lummi Indian Business Council, Bellingham, Washington – The “Lummi Kids First Community Garden” project is a collaboration among several entities that will benefit at-risk youth and families with access to seasonal fresh produce and vegetables, while increasing awareness of dietary needs, food preparation and food choices, including traditional foods.
- Moenkopi Developers Corporation, Inc., Tuba City, Arizona – The “Take & Make Healthy Foods Project” will provide the more than 150 students of Moencopi Day School with bi-weekly take-home packages of ready-to-make foods for them to prepare with their families. Each pack will utilize a minimum of one local traditional or student-grown ingredient. Students will assist in the preparation of the packs and will learn about the preparation and health benefits of each snack during weekly greenhouse classes. There will also be weekly garden/nutrition education provided.
- Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin, Bayfield, Wisconsin – This project creates a food-delivery system to help alleviate hunger in children on the Red Cliff reservation in rural and remote northern Wisconsin. It will serve children from low-income families, and will leverage nutrition center staff and facilities with organic food from the tribal farm in order to provide healthy snacks each day the youth center is open. It will also provide simple, healthy food-preparation education.
- Rocky Boy Schools District 87 J&L, Box Elder, Montana – The current “Helping Hands Backpack Program” will be supplemented by the grant, and will serve students on the Rocky Boy Indian Reservation. The district has a 100% free- and reduced-cost school lunch eligibility status. Despite that it already provides free- and reduced-price lunches (including during summer), students often go to homes where they are not guaranteed nutritious meals. The “Weekend Backpack” program that includes food and hygiene supplies will be expanded to additional students.
- The Center Pole, Garryowen, Montana – Center Pole’s existing efforts will add a food-recovery arm in order to provide more healthy, nutritious food for the Apsaalooke Nation’s (Crow Indian Reservation) children, where 25% of the population lives below the poverty line and face hunger on a daily basis. The recovery project will locate, transport and distribute foods that are being wasted in urban areas, providing a greater variety of healthy foods for children in this rural community.
- Yankton Sioux Tribe, Wagner, South Dakota – The “Bountiful Backpack Program” improves the overall nutritional quality of meals eaten at home by children and their families by developing cooking, food safety and recipe-preparation skills for participants. It links nutrition education and preparation with food sent home in backpacks. In addition, a pilot summer feeding program will serve additional youth.
In conjunction with these grants, First Nations will host a one-day convening with a representative of each of these organizations to gather information, provide a networking opportunity, and discuss promising models and practices. The convening will held during the national Food Sovereignty Summit October 2-5, 2017, in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Summit is co-hosted by First Nations and the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin.