Share Our Strength Invests $1 million in Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health

Theme(s):
Early Childhood Development

WASHINGTON, DC: Share Our Strength, a longtime partner of the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health, has invested $1 million over two years to to expand the scope of the Family Spirit evidence-based home visiting program to promote early childhood nutrition, prevent hunger and bolster Indigenous foodways. Share Our Strength’s investment will allow for the Center’s new home-based educational modules, called Family Spirit Nurture, to be delivered to thousands more Native American mothers and their children within the first months to promote the best possible nutrition in early life. The Center and Share Our Strength will also work jointly to raise awareness about diverse and sustainable Native-led programs, practices, and policies to end child hunger during the critical first years of life.

Over 25 years ago, Share Our Strength provided the seed funds to launch the development of Family Spirit, a maternal and child health home visiting program that supports Native American families nationally. The current grant will enable additional training in the Family Spirit Nurture program for at least 200 home visitors across 40 Tribal communities by March 2023. The grant will further support the development of a web-based app to share nutrition messages, goal-setting strategies, recipes, and nutrition resources with Native families. With the home visiting sessions and the app, more than 4,000 Native American families will be served through this investment.

“The Family Spirit home visiting program promotes nutrition and food security and serves Native American parents and their children from pregnancy to age 3—the most critical 1,000-day period of human growth. This evidence-based program celebrates the strengths and assets within Native communities by connecting Native home visitors with families. This powerful community-based approach will help ensure Native American children have the best opportunity available for a healthy life ahead,” said Caron Gremont, Early Childhood Director for Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry Campaign.

Native American communities are disproportionately affected by inequality in food justice, which often leads to health challenges such as diabetes, heart disease, and other nutrition-related illness. At the same time, Native communities have inherent strengths and are working to tap resources such as rich traditional foodways that support children’s nutrition.

Evidence published last year in JAMA Pediatrics showed Family Spirit Nurture as the first early childhood home visiting program to establish healthy infant feeding and achieve healthy growth status for infants in the first year of life. Over the past 15 years, three randomized controlled trials of the original Family Spirit program documented other important results including increased parenting knowledge and involvement; decreased maternal depression and substance use; decreased emotional and behavioral problems of mothers; and improved social, emotional and behavioral development for children.

For more information or to reach an expert for more details on this initiative, please contact Adrienne Carter at acarter@strength.org.


About Share Our Strength

At Share Our Strength, we’re ending hunger and poverty – in the United States and abroad. Through proven, effective campaigns like No Kid Hungry and Cooking Matters, we connect people who care to ideas that work. Learn more at www.ShareOurStrength.org.

About Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health

Founded in 1991 and based in the Department of International Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the Center supports public health interventions designed for and by Native people, with the mission to achieve health equity. The Center has offices in Native communities across Arizona and New Mexico as well as a Great Lakes Hub serving tribes in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and along the shared border with Canada. The Center’s partnerships have achieved landmark public health breakthroughs credited with saving millions of children’s lives in the U.S. and worldwide.

Featured photo by Ed Cunnicelli 

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