Posted by Cindy Long, USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service Administrator
Each opportunity to engage directly with the people we serve through our programs provides moments to learn and reflect. For far too long, decisions about the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations, also known as FDPIR, were made for tribes rather than with tribes or even by tribes. But USDA is committed to turning that tide and making the future of FDPIR one marked by listening, understanding and collaboration. Last month’s National Association of Food Distribution Programs on Indian Reservations Conference in Kansas City, Missouri, was the perfect occasion for FNS to discuss recent and upcoming changes to FDPIR with our tribal partners and hear feedback directly from those who would be impacted.
These actions include:
- Enhancing the FDPIR food package. FNS worked with tribes to inform these improvements, effective Sept. 1, which include:
- Doubling the eggs provided;
- Increasing the meat, poultry and fish participants can take by 67%;
- Increasing vegetables included by nearly 40%; and
- Adding strawberries and bison stew meat as options.
- Partnering with USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service and the Food Safety and Inspection Service to make it easier for bison raised by tribes to be included in the FDPIR food package.
- Adding new FDPIR Nutrition Education materials that participating tribes can order at no cost.
- Proposing changes to FDPIR regulations to level out differences in eligibility and benefits provided through FDPIR and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. These changes are open for comment until Oct. 13.
- Putting the power back in the hands of tribal nations to select and purchase foods for their FDPIR food packages directly rather than going through USDA. We’ve recently added eight additional tribes to the FDPIR Self-Determination Demonstration Project, which helps better align the packages with tribal dietary preferences, supports indigenous agricultural producers, and honors tribal sovereignty.
FNS will continue to make collaborative work with tribes a top priority. Working together, the future is looking bright for FDPIR.