With summer in full swing, my colleagues and I had the opportunity to visit summer feeding sites in Indian Country. Our journey landed us first at a Bureau of Indian Education school in Eagle Butte, South Dakota on the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Reservation. Eagle Butte is about 170 miles northeast of Rapid City, SD and home to a Seamless Summer site in full operation, serving over 200 kids daily breakfast and lunch.
Ms. Stacie Lee, the Food Service Manager at Eagle Butte, has been running the Seamless Summer Option through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) at the site for 11 years. The site is the largest in the area and with the USDA meals reimbursement, she is able to cover most of her expenses, "It practically pays for itself", says Ms. Lee, "except it doesn't cover all salaries but it does pay for food, freight, storage. It may pay for one or two salaries." Ms Lee adds, "The kids really inspire me to run this program."
During our visit, the kids enjoyed a healthy breakfast made up of an egg and cheese burrito, fruit, juice and milk. The lunch menu featured home-made pizza made with whole grain dough, tossed salad, fruit and milk. Overwhelming, the kids said their favorite part of the meal was the fruit option - plum.
Many of the kids joining in summer meals also participant in the Diabetes Prevention Program where the kids enjoy pool activities from 10 AM - 12 Noon, then join summer meals directly afterwards with the pool onsite at the Eagle Butte school.
As part of the Diabetes Prevention Program, kids enjoy two hours of swimming before lunch.
As part of our visit, a Native Youth Drum Circle honored us with traditional songs. The Drum Circle's leader, Mr. Emmanuel Red Bear, is Eagle Butte's Lakota Language teacher and plays an active role in developing youth following Lakota traditions. "These songs have been handed down to generation after generation pretty much the same melody, and the same beat. It's good to know that these young guys can sing these kinds of songs. It makes me feel good to know that the culture isn't going to die out."
Join us for our next visit as we head 150 miles south to Rosebud Sioux Tribe and learn about the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) at their site in Mission, South Dakota.