Caring for the Elders With a Healthy Breakfast

What does the term ‘Elder’ mean to you? For many, an Elder is a parent, a teacher, a grandparent, a friend or even a mentor. Elders often play a special role in caring for someone, and, as they get older those roles are often reversed; those who were cared for become the caregivers.

In Native American cultures, Elders are honored as the keepers of language, heritage and bloodlines. On reservations, it’s common for families to live together with their Elders or at least live close to one another so they can care for and support each other. Unfortunately, there aren’t always enough resources for every family member in the household – one in four Indigenous people in the U.S. experience food insecurity (compared to one in nine Americans overall).

In an effort to ensure Elders are not without food, Breakfast-in-a-Bag is a service that PWNA offers to eligible Elders on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota. As part of the program, Rosebud Elders are given breakfast foods for a balanced meal each morning, thanks to a partnership with AllStop, a local grocery store on the reservation.

Elders can either pick up their breakfast groceries or request to have them delivered to their home so that those who are without transportation and live remotely are not left without. The store also pairs Elders with a store employee – one who likes to visit and talk to the Elders while they shop –  to take them around the store to choose their breakfast items.

“We want them to feel rewarded; they deserve it and they’ve earned their way,” said Wes, the store owner. “For all the things they’ve done for people throughout their whole life, now someone is doing something special for them.”

Food insecurity is only one of the many challenges Native American Elders face. Depending on the community, other challenges include a lack of basic utilities in the home, such as running water and electricity. With the help of generous donors and Tribal partners, we’re able to support more than 600 pickups of fruits, vegetables, eggs and meat for Elders.  

We hope to continue providing Elders with healthy meals to fuel their days and hope you’ll join us in caring for those who helped sustain their communities and preserve their Native traditions.

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