HHS Awards $2.5 Million to Help Decrease Food Insecurity in Native Communities
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, through the Indian Health Service, awards $2.5 million in funding to support the development of produce prescription programs in tribal communities. The purpose of the IHS Produce Prescription Pilot Program is to help reduce food insecurity and improve health care outcomes among American Indian and Alaska Native people by increasing access to produce and other traditional foods within Native communities.
“Food is medicine and nutrition is health. It is critical that all Americans have access to healthy food,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Programs like this feed directly into our Administration’s goal of building healthier communities at the local level. This announcement will help to make it easier for American Indian and Alaska Native communities to enjoy healthy eating and good nutrition.”
"This funding is not just an allocation of resources, but a resounding commitment to addressing food insecurity in American Indian and Alaska Native communities,” said IHS Director Roselyn Tso. “It is a recognition of the urgent need to empower and support tribal communities in their pursuit of food sovereignty and well-being."
Produce prescription programs have been shown to increase access to nutritious foods in communities at risk for food insecurity. These programs help meet the needs of individuals and families experiencing food insecurity and diet related health problems by obtaining fruits and vegetables more easily. The IHS Produce Prescription Pilot Program is another action being taken to implement the Biden-Harris Administration’s National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health to end hunger and increase healthy eating and physical activity by 2030 so fewer Americans experience diet-related diseases.
The goal of this program is to demonstrate and evaluate the impact of produce prescription programs on American Indian and Alaska Native people and their families, specifically by reducing food insecurity, improving overall dietary health by increasing consumption of fruits, vegetables, and traditional food consumption, and improving health care outcomes.
The following tribes and tribal organizations received $500,000 each in 2023 grant funding to implement a produce prescription program in their communities:
|Laguna Healthcare Corporation||Paraje||New Mexico|
|Muscogee (Creek) Nation||Okmulgee||Oklahoma|
|Navajo Health Foundation - Sage Memorial Hospital||Ganado||Arizona|
|Pascua Yaqui Tribe||Tucson||Arizona|
|Rocky Boy Health Center||Box Elder||Montana|
American Indian and Alaska Native people are disproportionately impacted by food insecurity when compared to non-Native people and are more likely to live in areas with low or no access to fresh foods than any other racial or ethnic group. About one in four Native people experience food insecurity, compared to one in nine Americans overall. The higher rates of food insecurity among American Indian and Alaska Native people are exacerbated by water insecurity, loss of land, forced relocation, and environmental pollution, all of which have negatively impacted traditional healthy food practices.
The IHS Division of Diabetes Treatment and Prevention provides programmatic leadership to the Produce Prescription Pilot Program, as well as extensive training and resources, which are widely used by program sites and clinicians across the country.
The IHS, an agency in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, provides a comprehensive health service delivery system for approximately 2.8 million American Indians and Alaska Natives who belong to 574 federally recognized tribes in 37 states. Follow the agency via social media on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.