LONGMONT — A 35-year-old nonprofit group that works to boost Native American communities has received a $475,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation to launch a nutrition-education project.
Longmont-based First Nations Development Institute will use the money to run a culturally based “Nutrition Education for Native American Communities” project through 2017 and focus on 30 Native communities participating in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations, commonly referred to as the commodity food program.
The Walmart Foundation has been a major supporter of First Nations’ Native Agriculture and Food Systems Initiative since 2011.
In 2018, Platte River’s Board of Directors passed a Resource Diversification Policy, setting a new course for how Platte River provides energy.
First Nations will partner with the Miami, Okla.-based National Association of Food Distribution Programs on Indian Reservations to jointly select project grantees and deliver programming.
“Native Americans are twice as likely as the rest of the U.S. population to experience nutrition-related health problems,” said Raymond Foxworth, First Nations’ vice president for Grantmaking, Development and Communications, in a prepared statement issued Monday. “A significant number of them, perhaps even a majority, suffer from diet-related and often preventable diseases such as heart disease, hypertension, obesity and diabetes. That’s one reason this nutrition education effort is so vitally important.”
Foxworth said American Indians also have the highest food insecurity in the United States, with Native American households with children having a food insecurity rate of 28 percent compared with 16 percent for non-Natives. One of 12 Native individuals is so food insecure as to be classified as hungry, he said.
USDA defines food insecurity as “a household-level economic and social condition of limited or uncertain access to adequate food.”
Many Native American households depend on FDPIR feeding programs on reservations. A total of 276 tribes receive benefits under the program through 100 tribal organizations and five state agencies. Under FDPIR, food packages are provided monthly to about 90,000 low-income Native American individuals and families living on reservations and in approved Native communities.
USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service allocates some limited funding to a small number of FDPIR nutrition-education programs, but Foxworth said the amount is inadequate to meet the needs of Natives. The project’s goal, he said, is to expand Native Americans’ access to culturally appropriate nutrition education and information in order to increase control of their health and address diet-related diseases.
With the Walmart funding, First Nations will conduct a request-for-proposals process and then pick 30 Native communities that will get grants to support training and development of public education tools. According to a First Nations media statement, the activities will include workshops, cooking classes, food demonstrations and development and dissemination of educational materials. It estimates that the project will reach at least 2,250 Native individuals.