USDA Invests $3.5 Million to Provide Food Purchasing Options to Tribal Communities
Demonstration project gives tribal communities that operate the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) greater control over food choices
WASHINGTON, Nov. 1, 2021 – USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) awarded $3.5 million to eight tribal nations for a project that, for the first time, will offer them greater flexibility in their administration of the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR).
The FDPIR Self-Determination Demonstration Project empowers tribal nations by giving them more options in selecting foods for their FDPIR food packages, so that they better align with their dietary preferences. The project also allows tribal nations to purchase directly from commercial vendors instead of USDA.
“USDA is fully committed to supporting the restoration of indigenous food, to empower indigenous agricultural economies and to improve indigenous health through traditional foods. This FDPIR demonstration project is an important part of that effort,” said Stacy Dean, deputy under secretary for food, nutrition, and consumer services. “We are embracing this opportunity to make long-term enhancements to FDPIR by learning more about the nutritional needs and preferences of tribal communities.”
The 2018 Farm Bill authorized USDA and the Department of the Interior (DOI) to collaborate on a demonstration project to give tribes more control over food procurement in FDPIR. Between February 2019 and October 2020, tribal leaders and FDPIR-administering tribes met with FNS to inform the final aspects of the demonstration project.
FNS funded all eligible proposals from tribal nations interested in participating in the demonstration project, including:
- The Oneida Nation/Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin
- The Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa from Wisconsin
- The Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians from Michigan
- The Lummi Nation from Washington State
- The Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) from Alaska
- The Chickasaw Nation from Oklahoma
- The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians from Mississippi
Project implementation began in October 2021 with some contracts expected to last up to three years. Tribes proposed to purchase a variety of products including meats, fish, grains and fresh produce.
FDPIR’s current, traditional operating model, purchases nutritious, 100% domestic-grown and produced USDA Foods for eligible households. The foods are then shipped to tribal nations and state agencies that administer FDPIR. These administering agencies store and distribute the foods, determine applicant eligibility, and provide nutrition education to participants. USDA provides the administering agencies with funds for the program’s administrative costs.
FDPIR is administered by 105 tribal nations and three state agencies and provides benefits and nutrition education services to approximately 278 federally recognized tribes across the United States. In FY 2020, the program served approximately 75,000 individuals per month.
USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service leverages its 15 nutrition assistance programs to ensure that children, low-income individuals, and families have opportunities for a better future through equitable access to safe, healthy, and nutritious food, while building a more resilient food system. Under the leadership of Secretary Tom Vilsack, FNS is fighting to end food and nutrition insecurity for all through programs such as SNAP, school meals, and WIC. FNS also provides science-based nutrition recommendations through the co-development of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. To learn more, visit www.fns.usda.gov.
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