In a story for The Daily Yonder, a new research report highlights the growth of food insecurity in Native American tribes across the United States.

Reimagining Hunger Responses in Times of Crisis: Insights from Case Examples and a Survey of Native Communities’ Food Access During COVID-19, created by the Native American Agriculture Fund (NAAF), the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC), and the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative (IFAI) at the University of Arkansas shows that almost 50% of the surveyed individuals did not have enough food during the COVID-19 pandemic, or not enough money to buy more when food supplies ran out.

From the story: “This survey illuminated existing issues of food insecurity, insufficient food access, and how those were exacerbated by the pandemic,” said Toni Stanger-McLaughlin (Colville), CEO of Native American Agriculture Fund, in an email interview with The Daily Yonder. “Indian Country is the rural of rural and with limitations due to poor infrastructure, we saw disruptions in the food supply chain relating to transportation, processing and packaging.”

Stanger-McLaughlin said food assistance was at times delayed to rural tribal communities because tribal governments are not listed as eligible administrators for some commodity programs. 

“Also, because tribal producers are not always eligible to sell into these food commodity programs, food is not regional and is transported from across the country. By the time it does arrive, at times it is spoiled, and it is required to accept that food before they are able to file a report of that spoiled food. As a result food does not get into the hands of the tribal members that need it,” she said.”

But there are efforts to diminish supply-chain issues. The Osage Nation built a new meat-packing plant during the pandemic to help tribe members access more meat products, and the NAAF, FRAC and IFAI recommend that local lawmakers invest in and support tribal agricultural production.

To read the rest of the story and see the report, click here.