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Advancing Racial Justice through Food Distributions on Indian Reservations

Native American Indian child
By Cindy Long
Administrator, Food and Nutrition Service

USDA's Food and Nutrition Service is committed to providing equitable access to food to all Americans, but racial disparities in food security still exist. With the rate of food and nutrition insecurity higher among Black, Hispanic, and Native American populations, the data bears this out.

In response, both USDA and the Biden-Harris Administration have implemented programs targeting racial injustice and inequity in food and nutrition. Since January 2021, FNS has worked tirelessly to combat the impacts of food insecurity and racial inequity by advancing WIC, providing equity in access to SNAP, expanding culturally appropriate meals for children, extending food assistance to American territories, and improving nutrition assistance for Tribal communities. Through these programs, USDA helps millions of Americans of all backgrounds receive access to nutritious foods.

The Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) Self-Determination Demonstration Project, for instance, empowers Tribal Nations with more purchasing options to buy food that better aligns with culture and traditions. Since October 2021, we've awarded $3.5 million to eight Tribal Nations.

“This project is a big deal. It's a great showing of how FNS supports the interests of Indian Country to ensure more Tribal people have the chance to partake in Native foods grown by Native people,” said FNS Tribal Affairs Specialist Michael Ladd.

In Wisconsin, the Oneida Nation and Menominee Indian Tribe have used the FDPIR project funds to purchase tribally procured meats, fish, and apples from the Oneida Nation Farm and the Oneida Nation Apple Orchard.

With support from USDA, contracts awarded through the FDPIR Self-Determination Demonstration Project will continue to run through 2022. The program not only provides agency and nutrition to Tribal Nations, it also demonstrates USDA's commitment to racial justice and equity.

Page updated: November 22, 2023