What are you Eating for Breakfast?
The fond memory of waking up to the smell of smoke from a recently lit wood stove was a sign that my mother, grandmother or elder auntie would soon be cooking breakfast. I grew up in Southern Arizona in a small Native American Yaqui Village. Most of our neighbors had wood stoves, and the smoke from the burning wood permeated most of our community. Breakfast was a luxury for many of us; if we didn’t have breakfast at home, we relied on the free breakfast or lunch provided at school for our first nutritious meal of the day. Truth be told, the school breakfast motivated me, my siblings and fellow tribal members to be at school early.
Breakfast at home often consisted of oatmeal, eggs from our chickens and sometimes toast. A breakfast treat would be rice pudding made with brown sugar, cinnamon and raisins or Atole, an ancestral dish. One of its health benefits is magnesium, a vital nutrient. “Atole is perhaps best known as a traditional Mexican beverage made from masa (cornmeal), water, brown sugar, sweet spices and sometimes chocolate or fruit.” Atole is also known as “a pre-Hispanic drink made from cornmeal and water or milk. It’s said to have been traditionally used in sacred Aztec ceremonies.”
Fun fact, 91% of Americans today eat breakfast for dinner. If you’re not one of the “Brinner” crowd, try it – you might like it!
As we recently celebrated National Hot Breakfast Month, I recalled the monthly food resources we received – powdered eggs, powdered milk, cheese, rice, raisins and corn flakes – from the commodity food program now known as FDPIR. “The Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations provides USDA foods to income-eligible households living on Indian reservations and to Native American households residing in designated areas near reservations or in Oklahoma.”
Today, I work for Partnership With Native Americans (PWNA) serving some of the most remote and economically challenged tribal communities in the country. Our mission is to serve immediate needs and support long-term solutions, and one our priorities is improving food security. For instance:
- PWNA’s Breakfast-in-a-Bag service, offered through its Northern Plains Reservation Aid program, assists Elders who are most in need of nutritious foods, especially during the third week of the month when their social security funds start to run out. PWNA-provided breakfast groceries can be picked up at a local grocery store on the Rosebud Reservation and end skipping breakfast to make ends meet. In 2021, Elders picked up more than 450 grocery bags with 10,000+ pounds of breakfast foods, a $10,500 investment in Native health and food security.
- Additional investments in community gardens, ancestral food training and produce distributions are other ways PWNA is addressing the food insecurity facing Native American Elders, families and children.
Our overarching goal is to increase food resources so that every Elder, adult and child has access to a hot breakfast or a healthy meal every day. Your donation during National Hot Breakfast month and beyond will support of our Breakfast-in-a-Bag service and help eligible Elders start the day with a healthy meal in their own kitchen.