National Relief Charities via Crowdrise
November 17, 2011
BENEFITING: National Relief Charities
EVENT DATE: Apr 01, 2011
Native Americans have the highest rate of food insecurity of any ethnic group in the US. In 2010, more than 30% of Native Americans on rural, remote, and isolated reservations reported being food insecure or persistently hungry compared to the national average – 14.5%. Elders and children are disproportionately impacted by food insecurity on reservations.
The reservation communities where we work are located in a food desert (USDA Food Desert Locator) – 60 or more miles from the nearest large food or retail store (Wal-Mart, Target, Safeway, etc.) Few, if any grocery stores exist on a reservation forcing people to often meet their nutritional needs at gas stations or convenience stores where food is expensive and nutritionally inadequate.
Native Americans on rural and remote reservations experience high rates of poverty, often 200% below federally recognized poverty levels. Nutrition-related diseases are disproportionately high. About 16.5% are diagnosed with diabetes compared to the national average – 7%. Obesity and cardiovascular disease rates are also very high, and cancer survival rates and life expectancy rates are extremely low.
Since 1996, National Relief Charities has been addressing the issue of food insecurity on poverty-stricken Native American reservations. Project GROW is a collaboration with several organizations to help increase access to fresh, nutrition-rich foods through gardening. Individuals and community groups are provided with seeds, supplies, and technical support to begin or maintain existing garden projects. Elders are especially active participants. They volunteer their time and experience of traditional gardening and food preparation techniques.
As a service to Native American Elders, we deliver several tons of fresh produce during August and September. Our partner agencies on the reservations help to ensure all Elders, especially those with limited mobility or who are homebound, receive the fresh produce.
Project GROW has been successful in revitalizing gardening efforts in 38 Native communities on 5 Northern Plains reservations. We tilled, provided seeds, tools, and resources to approx. 4,000 individual and 115 community gardens. People in these communities have reported an increase of access and availability of quality and affordable food with a secondary benefit of an increase in physical activity and well-being.
For 9 years we worked with a partner agency on the Standing Rock reservation to support their efforts in addressing high diabetes rates. This partner is now self-sufficient with a robust farmers market that offers easy access and affordable nutrition-rich foods to the community.
We are currently working with the Oyate Teca program and Thunder Valley Community Development (on the Pine Ridge reservation, SD) to expand their community gardens and to help them develop a farmers market. Many other fledgling community gardens on Standing Rock (SD and ND), Pine Ridge, Rosebud reservations in SD and Northern Cheyenne in MT are working hard to expand their community gardens in an effort to address food insecurity in their communities.
With additional funding, we will be able to:
• Expand small existing community gardens on Pine Ridge, Rosebud, and Northern Cheyenne reservations
• Develop farmers markets on Standing Rock and Pine Ridge reservations
All of these projects have demonstrated success, but require additional funding to be completely brought up to scale. In specific terms this means the provision of supplies such as fencing, seeds, tools, soil and water system enhancements, canning and dehydration supplies, training on business development and management, and market supplies.
Project GROW’s primary impact on elders is animprovement to their diets by providing them with easier access to fresh and affordable produce, which in turn helps to improve their health, well-being, and quality of life.
Since its inception in 1995, Project GROW has been successful in revitalizing gardening efforts in 38 Native communities on 5 Northern Plains reservations. Our biggest milestone has been the successful end of our services to one Standing Rock reservation community. After 9 years of support, they have become self-sufficient in their community garden efforts as well as the creation and maintenance of a farmers market. We are currently helping other existing community gardens scale up to farmers markets in other reservation communities.
Goals for individual gardens:
Increase the number of individuals, especially children and Elders, plant and tend a home garden
Increase the number of individuals, especially families and Elders, save money on food purchases
Increase the number of individuals, especially children and Elders, increase physical activity through gardening
Increase the number of individuals, especially children and Elders, improve their physical health through the consumption of fresh, nutrition-rich foods
Goals for community gardens:
Increase the number of community gardens on Native American reservations
Increase the number of volunteers involved in their community garden
Increase the number of intergenerational opportunities for both Elders and youth
Increase the amount of produce distributed to community members through a farmers market effort
Improve the physical health of reservation communities through the consumption of fresh, nutrition-rich foods
Goals for produce distribution:
Increase the number of Elders who receive fresh, nutrition-rich produce
Increase the number of volunteers who can deliver produce to homebound Elders
Improve the physical health of Elders through the consumption of fresh, nutrition-rich produce