Release No. 0219.11
Office of Communications (202) 720-4623
USDA Highlights the Launch of Let's
Move! in Indian Country
WASHINGTON, May 25, 2011 — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today applauded
The Office of the First Lady's Let's Move! initiative and the launch of
Let's Move! in Indian Country (LMIC). LMIC is an effort designed to
support and advance the work that tribal leaders and community members are
already doing to improve the health of American Indian and Alaska Native
children. As a part of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move!
initiative, LMIC brings together federal agencies, communities, nonprofits,
corporate partners, and tribes to end the epidemic of childhood obesity in
Indian Country within a generation by everyone playing a role. The launch was
held at the Menominee Nation in Keshena, Wisconsin.
"This is a special day for the Tribes and for USDA. Let's Move! in Indian
Country, will help promote healthy eating and physical activity among Native
Americans and is an important part of the effort to reduce teen and childhood
obesity rates," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "USDA is committed to
working with native communities to create a healthy start for children, and
providing the nutrition assistance that will lead to healthy lives."
The Let's Move! in Indian Country initiative seeks to support and
advance the work that Tribal leaders and community members are already doing to
improve the health of Native American children. As a part of First Lady Michelle
Obama's Let's Move! initiative, LMIC brings together federal agencies,
communities, nonprofits, corporate partners, and tribes to mitigate childhood
obesity in Indian Country within a generation.
USDA continues to work with tribal governments to expand their access to the
full range of USDA programs by supporting and establishing local and regional
food systems. USDA is helping build strong and resilient American Indian, Alaska
Native and Native Hawaiian farming and ranching enterprises that will create
jobs and strong economies in Native communities across the country.
Additionally, the department is collaborating to increase the number of food
policy councils in Indian Country to improve food production opportunities and
the availability of locally grown foods.
"We are committed to working with Tribal nations to improving access to
healthy, affordable foods on Indian Reservations and tribal lands," said Janie
Hipp, Director of USDA's Office of Tribal Relations, "Let's Move! in Indian
Country will help support and expand efforts on the ground that will make
great strides in improving the nutrition and health of tribal members."
USDA has a long history of supporting the goals of LMIC by working with
Tribal nations through a variety of rural development and nutrition assistance
programs including the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR),
the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children
(WIC), the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), and the Supplemental Nutrition
Assistance Program (SNAP). LMIC will build on the success of these widely used
programs and focus on expanding participation in other federal nutrition
programs including the School Breakfast Program, the Fresh Fruit and Vegetables
Program which provides healthy snacks to school children, the Child and Adult
Care Food Program which can now reimburse schools and afterschool programs
providing an evening meal, and the Summer Food Service Program which feeds
children and teens when school is out. Additionally, our Rural Development
Programs have financed numerous projects in Indian Country, ranging from teacher
housing to small businesses such as restaurants and grocery stores.
The goals of LMIC are complemented by USDA's efforts including:
Creating a healthy FDPIR food package
- To improve the FDPIR food package, USDA has taken a number of actions to
increase the nutritional quality of FDPIR food offerings, including a 1995
partnership with the Department of Defense to purchase fresh fruits and
vegetables for the distribution on almost 100 reservations. This past year
alone, USDA worked with DOD to expand the number of fresh fruit and
vegetable offerings in the food package from 23 to 35. New items offered
include avocados, seedless grapes, cherries, kiwi, honey dew melon,
nectarines, and plums. The FDPIR Food Package serves over, 70,000 people
each month in Indian Country.
- A recent nutritional analysis concluded that individuals consuming FDPIR
foods would achieve a Healthy Eating Index score of 81 out of 100, well
above the average American diet. (58 out of 100). This underscores the
program's success in providing a benefit to FDPIR clients that is not only
cost-effective but nutritionally effective.
Grants to develop creative, self-initiated nutrition projects
- In April, USDA announced that 15 Indian Tribal Organizations were
selected to receive approximately $1 million in grants this year. The grants
will help develop creative, self-initiated projects designed to enhance the
nutrition knowledge and to foster positive lifestyle changes of low-income
households living on Indian reservations and to American Indian households
residing in approved areas near reservations or in Oklahoma.
- Projects chosen this year for the grants include a recipe toolkit
containing menus, shopping lists, and snack ideas featuring more fruits,
vegetables, and whole grains; summer camp programs for youth to teach
healthy cooking techniques; nutrition education sessions held during
scheduled food deliveries for participants in remote reservation areas; and
community gardens to promote fruit and vegetable consumption. Among the
recipients is the Menominee Indian Tribe of Keshena, Wisc., where the launch
of LMIC is being held. The Menominee Indian Tribe will use their grant to
offer cooking and canning classes to FDPIR eligible participants and assist
30 families in developing home vegetable gardens.
Passage of Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act
- The passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act signed by President
Obama in December 2010 allows USDA, for the first time in over 30 years, the
chance to make real reforms to the school lunch and breakfast programs by
improving the critical nutrition and hunger safety net for millions of
children. This will help native communities win the future by having
healthier lives. The bill also expanded the afterschool supper program to
youth in low-income areas in all 50 states, including reservations. It will
improve the food environment at schools participating in the National School
Lunch and Breakfast Programs, including tribal schools, by providing USDA
with the authority to set nutritional standards for all foods sold in
schools, including in vending machines, the "a la carte" lunch lines, and
school stores. It also enhances universal meal access for eligible children
in high poverty communities by eliminating paper applications and using
census data to determine school wide income eligibility.
Let's Move! is a comprehensive initiative, launched by the First Lady,
dedicated to solving the problem of obesity within a generation, so that
children born today will grow up healthier and able to pursue their dreams.
Combining comprehensive strategies with common sense, Let's Move! and
USDA are working to put native families on the path to a healthy future.
FDPIR and the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs are among
15 nutrition assistance programs overseen by USDA's Food and Nutrition Service.
Many households participate in the FDPIR as an alternative to the Special
Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as Food Stamps, because they do not
have easy access to SNAP offices or authorized food stores. These programs touch
the lives of one in four Americans each year and work together to form a
national safety net against hunger. Visit www.fns.usda.gov for
information about FNS and nutrition assistance programs.