First Nations/Walmart Foundation: 'Feeding our Future'

Project aimed at improving Native American child nutrition and helping alleviate hunger proves highly successful

News Release

First Nations Development Institute

LONGMONT, Colorado – A recently-concluded project aimed at improving nutrition and helping alleviate hunger for Native American children has proven highly successful, according to a new report by First Nations Development Institute (First Nations). The project – Nourishing Native Children: Feeding Our Future – was generously supported by the Walmart Foundation.

The report, titled Outcomes Under the Nourishing Native Children: Feeding Our Future Project, details the impressive results of the effort that ran for eight months to the end of 2017. Ten Native American programs that provide nutritious food to children ages 6-14 were competitively selected to participate. Each received a grant of $15,000 and participated in a one-day facilitated convening with 10 additional programs. Through this gathering, they shared what makes them successful, what challenges they face, and recommendations for others concerned about Native children’s hunger.

According to the new report, the project’s original goal was for the grantees to collectively reach at least 350 children, but that number was far exceeded. Together, the grantees – three Native schools serving a primarily Native student body, five Native-controlled nonprofit organizations, and two tribes – served more than 15,434 Native children, reaching 12 tribal communities with a total of 65,443 meals.

For Native American children, their school or school-related meals may be the most reliable, consistent and nutritionally-balanced food they receive. Many of these programs feed children at their school or facility, or they provide “backpacks” of food for the children to take home. However, funding for these programs and the opportunity for meal providers to network is extremely limited – to the detriment of alleviating Native children’s hunger and being able to determine how to most effectively support this vital work.

Beyond feeding hungry children, the grantees catalyzed children’s awareness of healthy nutrition, improved student performance and attendance, brought together their communities to celebrate their culture and bonds, built durable relationships that will undoubtedly serve them in the future, increased food production, and moved toward community food sovereignty.

The report highlights the grantees’ models as well as the learnings from the grantees and others about their best practices, issues encountered, and recommendations for community, tribal and systems efforts. The full report can be downloaded for free from the First Nations website at https://firstnations.org/knowledge-center/foods-health/research. (Please note that if you don't already have one, you will need to create a free online account to download the report.)

The grantees participating in the project were:

  1. Akwesasne Boys & Girls Club, Akwesasne, New York
  2. Fremont County School District 38, Arapahoe, Wyoming
  3. Keres Children's Learning Center, Cochiti Pueblo, New Mexico
  4. Lower Brule Community College, Lower Brule, South Dakota
  5. Lummi Indian Business Council, Bellingham, Washington
  6. Moenkopi Developers Corporation, Inc., Tuba City, Arizona
  7. Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin, Bayfield, Wisconsin
  8. Rocky Boy Schools District 87 J&L, Box Elder, Montana
  9. The Center Pole, Garryowen, Montana
  10. Yankton Sioux Tribe, Wagner, South Dakota

About First Nations Development Institute

For 38 years, using a three-pronged strategy of educating grassroots practitioners, advocating for systemic change, and capitalizing Indian communities, First Nations has been working to restore Native American control and culturally-compatible stewardship of the assets they own – be they land, human potential, cultural heritage or natural resources – and to establish new assets for ensuring the long-term vitality of Native American communities. First Nations serves Native American communities throughout the United States. For more information, visit www.firstnations.org.

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