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First Nations Development Institute to Address Food Secuirty of Native Elders With $250K AARP Grant

ICTMN Staff

AARP Foundation has granted First Nations Development Institute $250,000 to fund a project to address hunger, nutrition and food insecurity among Native American tribal elders. The new grant expands work that began in 2012 when AARP Foundation provided First Nations with a copy87,660 grant under First Nations' Native American Food Security project.

Under the first grant, First Nations awarded $25,000 each to four projects that have been successfully completed and evaluated:

1. The Ponca Tribe put the funding toward raising natural, hormone-free pork and providing it to tribal elders by way of its local food-distribution program and a senior citizen center.

2. The Pueblo of Nambe's Community Farm Project is using its local resources of land, water and sun to revitalize traditional agricultural knowledge while working to end food insecurity among seniors in the community. The Pueblo of Nambe’s project had four main components: the construction of a hoop-house, management of a program called “Inventory of Surplus,” establishment of a Senior Food Distribution Service, and the formation and operation of a food database.

3. Santo Domingo Pueblo implemented a traditional farming program to engage seniors, farmers and youth in the community. Through the purchase and development of a greenhouse, the seniors planted and cultivated traditional crops. The seniors worked directly with youth on a weekly basis to provide traditional education around the interrelationship of agriculture and various cultural practices, including songs, dances and prayers. The seedlings cultivated in the greenhouse are then sold to community members and transplanted by elders and youth in a community field, where programming will continue throughout the summer and fall. At harvest time, elders and youth work together to harvest crops for sale at local farmers markets and convenience stores.

4. The Sipaulovi Development Corporation in Arizona works to ensure elder food security by reclaiming locally controlled food systems based on traditional knowledge, contemporary practices, and coming together for the common good. Activities focus on restoring seed and water sources, reviving community farming and gardening, and growing, processing and sharing food in the traditional manner. The gardens are a reliable source of healthy food for elders. Sipaulovi is a self-governing Hopi village founded in the early 1700s on Second Mesa, Arizona. Of the 900 village residents, 28% are elders over 55, while 40% are youth up to age 18.

Under the new grant, First Nations will award funding to additional Native American projects; a proposal process is now underway for those grants.

The Native American Food Security project assists Native American tribes or organizations working to eliminate food insecurity among senior populations. National statistics document that Native Americans continue to experience high rates of poverty, contributing to significant food insecurity in many Native American communities. According to the most recent American Community Survey, about 26% of American Indians live at or below the poverty line. The same survey indicates that roughly 12% of all Native Americans living in poverty are age 55 and older. Other studies conducted by the National Resource Center on Native American Aging note that Native American seniors suffer from higher rates of obesity, diabetes and other negative health indicators when compared to other senior groups in the United States.

"Our grant from AARP Foundation bore significantly positive results during the first round, and we are excited and very thankful that the foundation has provided additional funding for this effort," said Michael E. Roberts, president of First Nations. "With a combination of direct grants and technical assistance and training made possible by the new funding, we will grow this project to increase the quantity and healthful quality of food for tribal elders while documenting the best models for broader dissemination throughout Indian Country."

"AARP Foundation's $250,000 grant to First Nations helps bolster the continued efforts of both of our organizations in the fight against older adult hunger," said AARP Foundation President Lisa Marsh Ryerson. "By aligning with an organization that has a proven record in hunger relief, we are pleased to be able do it again and we are looking forward to watching the new programs grow further and fight hunger for Native American elders."

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