Food and Water: A Basic Human Right But Not An Equal Opportunity

Access to food and water is a basic human right. Unfortunately, 1 in 9 people are food insecure in the U.S. More specifically, 1 in 4 Native Americans are food insecure. In fact, 60% of counties with a majority Native population have a high rate of food insecurity, despite comprising less than 1% of all U.S. counties.

The many issues that overlap with food insecurity, including housing, social isolation, chronic or acute health problems with limited healthcare access, and low wages or unemployment, only exasperate the difficulty. And with COVID-19, many Native Americans were left in crowded homes and vulnerable to the virus. Many lives were lost – proportionately more than for any other ethnic group in the U.S. – and many tribal communities continue to face a COVID-19 burden.

This complexity of challenges makes our work with tribal partners even more dire. Low food security and water supply is an everyday issue on  remote reservations. Nutritious food that is affordable is even harder to come by. And while many food banks operate across our service area, a recent study by America’s Second Harvest shows that most food banks lack an adequate supply of food to meet the demand, which is higher than ever.

The U.S. establishment of the reservation system forced many tribes to relocate and rebuild in often barren lands and unfamiliar ecosystems that were less conducive to harvesting. Simultaneously, their traditional food supply was replaced by unhealthy foods, such as large rations of sugar and flour. The effects of these government initiatives are still impacting Native Americans, now two times more likely to have diabetes than other Americans.

Through our Northern Plains Reservation Aid and Southwest Reservation Aid programs, our goal is to address the immediate needs of families who often worry about where their next meal may come from. We provide staple foods to Elderly Nutrition programs, food boxes to food pantries, emergency food boxes, food and water when disasters strike, and community meals to help our tribal partners boost engagement during the holidays.

PWNA is committed to giving hope through food for generations to come but can only do so with your generous support.

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