The Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health announced today a grant of $150,000 from the Walmart Foundation to improve health and nutrition in tribal communities nationwide, including a major partnership with FoodCorps that will help reach over 30 communities.
This is the second year Walmart has provided support for the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health’s multi-pronged “Feast for the Future” initiative, which promotes healthy eating through school-based garden and nutrition education programs, re-introducing healthy indigenous eating practices to young people, and strengthening local agriculture.
Innovation to improve access to healthy food
Nearly one-third of American Indian and Alaska Native children are obese—the highest rate of any racial group in the country. They also have twice the level of type 2 diabetes and food insecurity. Many tribal lands are food deserts, defined as impoverished communities that lack access to healthy and affordable food.
“Access to healthy, nutritious food plays an essential role in helping children reach their full potential,” said Karrie Denniston, Director of Hunger and Nutrition for the Walmart Foundation. “We are pleased to continue our support of Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health to ensure American Indian children and teens have greater access to healthy food and learn how to grow and enjoy nourishing culturally relevant foods.”
National expansion through digital toolkit
The Walmart Foundation grant will help Feast for the Future reach tribal communities nationwide. A digital toolkit created by Johns Hopkins Center will provide FoodCorps members with step-by-step instructions and customizable materials in order to widely scale the program. Hundreds of children will learn to grow and prepare healthy foods through an edible school garden curriculum, and farmers and tribal elders will be paired with children to teach traditional agriculture, language, and healthy eating practices. In addition, communities will have the opportunity to develop a variety of other nutrition promotion programs such as farmers markets, farmers workshops, and family gardens.
Walmart’s support will also help expand a comprehensive program for youth in Tuba City, AZ, on the Navajo Nation that uses sports as a hook to promote healthy lifestyles, nutrition, and education.
“We are grateful for the Walmart Foundation’s help to build tribal communities’ capacity to improve health and well-being among youth and families through improved nutrition, fitness and education,” said Allison Barlow, PhD, MPH, Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health.
“We are particularly grateful for the Walmart Foundation’s philanthropic leadership, given the fact Native Americans are reached by less than .5% of overall U.S. charitable foundation giving, yet represent nearly 2% of the population and suffer approximately three times the health disparities,” said Dr. Barlow.
“The need is great: one in two Native American children are on track to develop diabetes in their lifetime,” said Cecily Upton, Co-Founder and VP of Innovation and Strategic Partnerships at FoodCorps. “It is with great enthusiasm that we partner with Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health to support our work with tribal communities,” she said.
Johns Hopkins Center is working with tribal partners to ultimately incorporate these programs within existing community agencies so that they are sustainable long-term.
Feast for the Future Key Components
- Support and training for Native American farmers
- Community gardens, orchards, greenhouses and family gardens
- Edible school gardens and nutrition curriculum for 3rd-5th graders
- Healthy traditional eating practices taught to children by elders