Free Native Ag/Food & Financial Capability Resources

 

First Nations Development Institute recently released new publications in two of its focus areas: 1) Native Foods and Health and 2) Native Financial Empowerment.

Native Foods and Health

Twelve new Fact Sheets were published recently that provide broad overviews and specific insights into numerous topics dealing with Native American agriculture and food systems. The fact sheets should prove valuable to Native farmers, ranchers, gardeners, food processors, marketers and tribal policymakers. The publications are free and available for download from First Nations’ Knowledge Center at this link: http://www.firstnations.org/knowledge-center/foods-health/resources/fact-sheets-2. (Note: you may have to create a free account to download the reports if you don’t already have one.)

The new fact sheet topics are:

  • Community Kitchens
  • Farm-to-School Programs
  • Farmers’ Markets
  • Food and Household Income
  • Food Hubs
  • Food Policy
  • Food Safety
  • Food Seasonality
  • Food Sovereignty
  • Producers and Market Access
  • Seed Saving and Seed Sovereignty
  • Youth Engagement

First Nations also recently released a revised, updated Food Sovereignty Assessment Tool (FSAT). The FSAT assists Native communities in reclaiming their local food systems. It helps demystify the process of data collection about local food systems and provides tools and a framework for Native communities to measure and assess food access, land use and food policy in their communities. Since its original development, First Nations has provided hundreds of trainings on the FSAT and it has been used around the world in other Indigenous communities.

To download, visit http://www.firstnations.org/knowledge-center/foods-health (Note: you may have to create a free account to download the reports if you don’t already have one.)

Native Financial Empowerment

Tribes and Native American nonprofits are pioneering new and innovative financial capability programs that empower tribal citizens to take control of their financial futures. First Nations, working in partnership with the Northwest Area Foundation, recently released a report documenting these programs and identifying promising practices and areas for growth. Titled Building Assets and Building Lives: Financial Capability Programs in Native Communities, this report provides an overview of recent research on financial literacy and financial services in Native communities, and then presents data on financial capability programs serving a broad range of communities in the Northwest Area Foundation region.

Financial capability programs increase financial knowledge and also provide financial services that are affordable, easy to use, and safe. For example, the Northern Eagle Federal Credit Union, a financial institution recently launched by the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa Indians, offers affordable savings accounts and other financial services to tribal members. Staff members also conduct financial education workshops for tribal employees, high school students and other community members to help people build their financial knowledge and skills. In addition, they provide financial counseling services.

For a copy of the Building Assets and Building Lives: Financial Capability Programs in Native Communities paper, visit http://www.firstnations.org/knowledge-center/financial-education/research. (Note: you may have to create a free account to download the reports if you don’t already have one.)

White Earth Project Creates Farm-School Guide

One of First Nations Development Institute’s grantees, White Earth Land Recovery Project (WELRP) on the White Earth Indian Reservation in northern Minnesota, recently completed a great new guide for establishing farm-to-school programs in Native communities. The publication is titled Indigenous Farm-to-School Programs: A Guide for Creating a Farm-to-School Program in an Indigenous Community.

The guide was made possible with a grant provided by First Nations Development Institute through support from the Walmart FoundationThe guide can be found at this link.

Founded in 1989, WELRP is a nonprofit, multi-issue Native American organization. It has long recognized the overwhelmingly critical food state on the White Earth Reservation. After efforts to improve the lives of its youth with various gardening and cultural projects, it decided to implement the farm-to-school program. It was introduced at a time when 35% of the adult population of the White Earth community was suffering from Type 2 diabetes. The children also were facing unprecedented health risks, with Indian Health Services recording a 70% increase in childhood diabetes and obesity.

The focus of the proposed farm-to-school program was the Pine Point Elementary School, where 89% of the students qualified for free meals through the federal school breakfast and lunch program, and another 8.5 % qualified for reduced-price meals. Since the program launched, two other schools have been added – the Nay Tah Waush Charter School and the Circle of Life Academy.

WELRP worked with more than 50 growers from its own community and others close by, and has served more than 60 foods (naturally or organically grown, with no known use of pesticides).  These include bison, wild rice in various forms, fresh berries and squash, which are just some of the foods that came from the traditional diet of the Anishinaabe people. WELRP’s goals in the project were to improve the health of youngsters while helping revitalize White Earth’s local economy and reintroduce Anishinaabe food traditions and practices.

Our congratulations to WELRP for completing this important project!

By Raymond Foxworth, Senior Program Officer