The Dudley T. Dougherty Foundation

To provide food and water supplies to low-income Native Americans.

Grant Information
Categories Peace , Education , Community , Environment
Location United States
Cycle Year 2021
Organization Information
Organization Name (provided by applicant) Partnership with Native Americans
Organization Name (provided by automatic EIN validation)
Contact Information
Contact Name Tierra Bishop
Phone 214-217-2600 ext. 133
16415 Addison Rd, Suite 200
Additional Information
Used for Partnership with Native Americans requests a $35,000 grant to provide life-saving food and water supplies to low-income Native Americans living in tribal communities. If granted, your funds would be used to purchase and distribute shelf-stable products, fresh produce and ancestral foods to Native Americans who need supplemental food items.
Benefits Partnership with Native Americans (PWNA) is a 501(c)3 organization serving Native American Reservations in the Northern Plains and Southwest regions of the United States. Committed to championing hope for a brighter future for Native Americans living in remote and often isolated communities, PWNA works with over 1,000 reservation partners who identify the needs and solutions for their communities. Each year, PWNA provides more than $31 million in aid and services benefitting 250,000 Native Americans across the United States.
Proposal Description Provision of Food and Water to Low-Income Native Americans Living in Tribal Communities

The need for food and water support on our reservations cannot be understated.

An article, published by Feeding America, describes the dire need for both emergency food services and systemic change regarding healthy food access for tribal communities.

Native Americans have faced centuries of persecution and discrimination, losing their land and being forced onto reservations that lacked the resources needed to build and sustain their communities. Today, Native Americans still face threats from federal and state governments related to land use, including the ability to hunt, fish, gather, and preserve their own food.

Native Americans suffer from some of the highest rates of food insecurity, poverty, diet-related diseases, and other challenges due to historic and present-day systematic and institutional inequities. One out of every four Indigenous people experiences food insecurity compared to one in nine Americans overall. Food insecurity is the household-level economic and social condition of limited or uncertain access to adequate food. According to the USDA, low and very low food security includes a reduced quality, variety or desirability of diet and/or disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake.

The most recent USDA Annual Household Food Security Report indicated that Black Americans, Hispanic Americans, and White Americans experienced food insecurity at 25.2%, 16.8%, and 10.4%, respectively. However, the report does not clearly present data on Native Americans. A study published in the Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition found that over a ten-year period, Tribal communities averaged a food insecurity rate of 25%. However, this unsettling number still fails to capture the extreme food insecurity experienced in some Native American communities. A recent study, prior to COVID-19, of Native American Tribes in northern California/southern Oregon, revealed that 92% of households had a lack of access to enough good, healthy, and culturally appropriate food.

Several federal programs are currently working to address food insecurity in Tribal communities. However, these programs experience accessibility and transportation barriers. The two largest food assistance programs that serve Native Americans are the USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR). SNAP is only effective if authorized grocery stores are easily accessible. Since many American Indian and Alaska Native Tribal areas have low population densities and high poverty rates, large grocers typically do not establish a presence in these areas. This lack of grocery stores creates a rural food desert, a community wherein a third of its population is 10 miles or more from a large grocery store.

When SNAP is not feasible, USDA funds an alternative program, FDPIR. USDA purchases and ships selected foods to Indian Tribal Organizations where local sites distribute the USDA foods to income-eligible households. While these deliveries bring some relief to hungry households, the once-a-month deliveries are not enough to meet the need for healthy, readily accessible food supplies.

While it is imperative to provide access to food for hungry tribal communities, it is also important to explore complementary solutions, especially those that promote Native American food sovereignty. Food sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems. Tribal communities have begun to revisit solutions rooted in food sovereignty to address food insecurity among Native Americans. The fundamental difference between food security and food sovereignty is that food security seeks to address the issue of food and hunger through the current dominant food systems, while food sovereignty challenges this approach and seeks to build alternatives addressing the root causes through a bottom-up, grassroots approach.

Among Native Americans, there is a strong desire for stewardship of cultural resources to increase access to traditional foods, as well as strengthening skills for self-reliance, including support for home food production. According to Feed America, for many Native Americans, food sovereignty is the ultimate long-term solution to eliminate food insecurity. Their recommendation is that anyone who works with Native Americans should strive to support the Native food sovereignty movement by increasing funding for the purchase of traditional, locally sourced foods like bison, wild rice, salmon, catfish, and blue cornmeal.

Even though federal and state governments and food bank networks are continually seeking a variety of methods to address the food security needs of Tribal communities, gaps still exist in the current food assistance. Partnership with Native Americans is working to address these gaps through both our supplemental food distribution programs and increasing access to ancestral foods.

As in all of our services, PWNA works with partner organizations to strengthen programs within the reservations without duplicating services. We follow this model to address food insecurity and food access within low-income Native American populations. As with our work overall, each component of our food program has nuances between the reservations as well as geographic differences in implementation with some programs only offered to select communities.

PWNA operates an extensive food delivery system involving multiple warehouse spaces, a fleet of delivery trucks, and a far-reaching supply chain of donors and vendors. With hubs in Phoenix, Arizona, and Rapid City, South Dakota, we serve reservations in 9 priority states including Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska.

Our delivery drivers access communities located in extremely rural areas with minimal infrastructure. Often, we are the only delivery source for food and supplies in these communities, as other national food relief providers are unable or unwilling to extend their networks into these hard-to-reach areas. Our delivery drivers are valued members of our team and in some of our most rural communities are the sole representation of our mission to the residents in these communities.

Our food programs are an essential and vital resource for the 250,000 Native Americans who access these services each year.

Our food access work includes:

Food Pantry Partnerships
PWNA works with 22 partners to provide monthly deliveries of donated food with a focus on food items that are close to expiration. Our food pantry partners have the ability to quickly distribute large amounts of product, allowing us to receive donations that would otherwise be declined from other food distribution partners. Each year, this program serves 22 communities on 14 reservations in 6 states, providing over 132,000 pounds of food to over 15,000 people.

Standard Food Deliveries
Each quarter, PWNA delivers supplemental, standard food items to 57 program sites. Because our partners know that PWNA will provide a set list of standard items each quarter, they are able to adjust their budgets to acquire complementary items from other national food bank providers. This method of delivery allows us to work alongside both the food partners on the ground and national food partners.

A typical, standard food delivery would include: 50lb bag of beans, a 50lb bag of flour, a 25lb bag of sugar, a 25lb bag of rice, canned fruits, and canned vegetables. All food items distributed during these deliveries must be shelf-stable items that can be stored for longer periods of time. Each year, this program serves 56 communities on 20 reservations in 8 states, providing almost 88,000 pounds of food to over 11,000 people.

Emergency Food Boxes
In addition to our quickly distributed and standard food items, PWNA provides emergency food supplies during times of crisis to any reservation in need. We also provide emergency food boxes three times a year to senior centers across our distribution area. An Emergency Food Box typically contains enough food items for 7 meals, including both healthy proteins and vitamin-enriched foods. Each year, the senior distribution program serves 23 communities on 12 reservations in 6 states, providing almost 72,000 pounds of food to over 3,000 people.

Breakfast in a Bag
Many elders on the reservations are at a higher risk for food insecurity. We supplement other feeding programs by providing “BnB” supplies for these elders. Each year, this program serves 10 communities in two states and provides over breakfast bags to over 600 elders.

Holiday Meals
In the spirit of community celebrations, PWNA provides meal boxes to elders during select holidays celebrated by many in our communities, including Thanksgiving and Christmas. These food boxes include all items needed to prepare a traditional holiday meal for six people. Each year, this program serves 12 communities on 3 reservations in 4 states and provides over 2,000 pounds of food to 400 people.

Fresh Produce and Ancestral Foods
PWNA focuses on health services support for hundreds of reservation programs that address preventative care, home health visits, and health education initiatives for tribal members. However, one of the most basic aspects of preventative care – access to healthy foods – is a challenge for us to provide. Healthy foods, specifically fresh fruits and vegetables must be delivered to community members quickly upon harvest. This fast turnaround and short shelf life limit our distributions to reservations within a short distance from a hub or supplier. As available, PWNA distributes fresh produce during the Plains growing season to reservations within a 300-mile radius of Pierre, South Dakota. We are working to expand our capacity to provide these healthy foods to even our most rural communities.

As we work to support systems-level change within the food banking system, it is important for us to support the Native food sovereignty movement by increasing funding for the purchase of traditional, locally sourced ancestral foods. These foods both encourage community residents to eat a healthier diet and show respect for the traditions within our reservations. Some examples of ancestral foods are buffalo, sheep, pinto beans, corn (blue, yellow and white), juniper ash, chokeberries and timpsila.

Garden Services
Community gardens provide a front-line, on-the-ground response to both food sovereignty and access to healthy, fresh foods. PWNA provides support for community gardens by providing small investments of materials, tilling support and capital for selected reservations.