Current Projects

Strengthening Native Programs and Feeding Families

As part of First Nations’ Native Food Pantry Initiative, the Strengthening Native Programs & Feeding Families project responds to the fact that Native Americans have some of the highest food insecurity rates in the United States and that both Tribes and Tribal community organizations are in the best position to address their needs.

With support from American Express, in 2022 First Nations awarded 10 tribes or Native-run nonprofits or Native community groups, which are addressing food insecurity through food distribution, with grants of $10,000 each annually over four years. In total, the Food Pantry initiative will support 48 non-profits or Native community groups. 

Grantees will also work to distribute approximately 5,000 pounds of food, in line with the Food Pantry Initiative goal of collecting and distributing a total of 240,000 pounds of food over the four years of the grant program.

2022 Grantees

Santa Fe Indigenous Center, Santa Fe, NM

Santa Fe Indigenous Center (SFIC) food distribution efforts have made a difference in the lives of the Indigenous population. The drive-up food distributions address food insecurity by adding access to healthy and traditional. SFIC partners with the food depot and local Native farms, including Trujillo Farms of Nambe Pueblo and Tesuque Pueblo farms, to provide local foods grown in the Southwest (e.g., blue corn, posole, chicos, chili, squash and herbs) to Native individuals and families. 

Arlee Community Development Corporation, Arlee, MT

The Arlee Community Development Corporation’s program provides critical steps in strengthening Indigenous food systems and community health. The corporation provides food gathering, preparation and preservation workshops. These efforts are led by cultural practitioners and elders after two generations of lost food processes due to the impacts of residential and boarding schools in this Native community. Living in reservation systems and use of non-Native foods interrupted the traditional foods and systems contributing to today’s health issues and disparities. This funding helps build on existing infrastructure and programming to move quickly toward healthy food sustainability for the tribal community.  

People’s Food Sovereignty Program, Ronan, MT

The People’s Food Sovereignty Program will implement this program by continuing to support tribal hunters and implementing the farmer, rancher, landowner hunts. In previous years, the program harvested 2,400 pounds of meat. This year, they plan to double their capacity for the upcoming year’s distribution. They plan to implement a dry meat program to reduce the frozen and warehouse storage space and carbon footprint, and increase the shelf life of distributions. The program partners with Montana State University, the Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council, and the Chef Ann Foundation to assist in food safety plan development, recipe creation, and meal program development. 

Sicangu Community Development Corporation, Mission, SD

The Wolakota Buffalo Range is the world’s largest Indigenous operated bison herd. Located in Rosebud, its goal is to regenerate Indigenous ecosystems, and it has converted more than 20,000 acres of tribal land from cattle to buffalo. The “Being a Good Relative: Sicangu Foods Initiative” will support the purchase and processing of three buffalo from Wolakota; two of these buffalo will be field harvested by staff and farm apprentices, and one will be processed via a nearby meat locker. All of the meat will be donated to community members via the Mobile Market. Along with the meat, community members will receive recipes that will include nutritional and cultural information, including the creation story and different uses of bison such as tools, clothing, and shelter. Increasing access to buffalo meat—the central component of their Native diet—is essential to improving the health of the community.


Spirit of the Sun, Denver, CO

Since the Food Share program has now been running for two years strong, Spirit of the Sun has an established process in place to distribute food at an efficient standard. The program collects surveys before and during distribution to calculate both qualitative and quantitative responses from clients. Spirit of the Sun is also in the process of creating a post survey for community members to receive feedback on the Food Share boxes, whether they enjoy the variety of produce, and how the organization can better serve them. Currently, Spirit of the Sun is still enforcing the Food Share program as a no-contact distribution and delivery service to help keep the elderly and other vulnerable members in the community safe.


Ohe.laku Among the Cornstalks, Oneida, WI

Ohe.laku Among the Cornstalks has dedicated the past five years to learning how to cooperatively cultivate Tuscarora White Corn, a flint corn that requires processing to make edible. Working together has produced an abundance. Many co-op members now have hundreds of pounds of corn in storage. The next challenge is addressing access to processing equipment on the reservation. This project enables Ohe.laku to tackle that challenge together to produce roasted corn flour, a mainstay traditional food that will feed families, and fortify food distribution programs serving tribes in Wisconsin.

Lakota Wellness Society, Parmelee, MT

The Lakota Wellness Society’s grant project will address food insecurity in their community by distributing 5,000 pounds of food to 100 Indigenous multi-generational households. A community garden will also be planted inside a chain link fence to protect the food. Produce harvested from the garden will be included in the food distribution.

Chugach Regional Resources Commission, Anchorage, AK

In Chugach Regional Resource Commission’s hydroponic greenhouse, food is grown in vertical towers without soil. This allows huge amounts of food to be produced in small geographic areas. In fact, the hydroponic greenhouse uses less land than traditional farming methods. And a desert climate isn’t a problem either. Even though this growing method uses water alone for growing, there is no run-off and very little evaporative waste, so crops need 98% less water than on traditional farms. Produce grown in hydroponic systems will help tribal community members access fresh vegetables in remote locations.

American Indian Center Inc., Chicago, IL

The American Indian Center (AIC) continues to address food insecurity in the Chicago community with their Indigenous food box distribution, cooking workshops, and a future community garden. During the past two years, AIC witnessed the harsh impact of the pandemic on families in their community that lost relatives and loved ones, as well as jobs and income. This directly affected their access to food. Food insecurity is not a new condition, but the pandemic highlighted how many community members were in need of food. 

Paʻupena Community Development Corporation (CDC), Kula, HI

The Paʻupena Community Development Corporation (CDC)  project will provide boxes of locally grown fruits and vegetables, including traditional food. This project will benefit Native Hawaiian communities by providing to families fresh food, including fruit, vegetables, honey, jam, tea, eggs, and meat. Families will also receive Indigenous Native Hawaiians foods, such as poi, kalo and ulu. This program will lessen the financial stress for Native Hawaiian families to not have to choose between paying for rent, utilities, and medical bills, and being able to provide more nutritious foods for their families.