LONGMONT, COLORADO — First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) has released a new report titled “Grantmaking in Indian Country: Trends from the Native Agriculture and Food Systems Initiative” that, among other findings, reveals a large gap between dollars needed for essential Indian Country food projects and the actual funding available for those projects.
That “unmet need” conclusion is based on First Nations’ analysis of the number and amount of grant requests it has received from tribes and reservation-based Native organizations for food-system projects over the past four years. In the report, First Nations notes it was only able to fund 7.18% ($1.73 million) of the $24.1 million requested in a total of 614 grant applications received between 2011 and 2014, leaving an unmet need of more than $22.3 million.
Through its Native Agriculture and Food Systems Initiative (NAFSI), First Nations has become the largest funder in Indian Country of tribal agriculture and food system projects that are specifically geared toward establishing or reclaiming control of Native food systems. First Nations has enjoyed strong support for these efforts from organizations such as the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, AARP Foundation, Walmart Foundation, The Christensen Fund, CHS Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Community Development Initiative, Office of Advocacy and Outreach, and Community Food Projects.
“The significant number of requests received highlights the fact that food-system issues in Native communities have become an important area of focus as tribes and community organizations look to spur community and economic development and reclaim control of diet, health and local economies,” said the report’s author, Raymond Foxworth, who is First Nations’ senior program officer and deputy director of development, and who also manages NAFSI.
“Along with this escalation of importance comes a widening gap in the funding available to meet these needs. Here at First Nations, we’ll be looking for ways to significantly improve the pool of funding that is available to assist these burgeoning Native food and agriculture projects.”
The report also highlights additional trends in American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian food-systems efforts, also based on the grant applications received by First Nations. Among them are:
Most grant requests come from the Southwest, Northern Plains and Midwest regions of the U.S.
Nonprofit or community organizations are the largest applicants, followed by tribes themselves and tribal colleges.
The top areas of interest are health and nutrition education, traditional food systems, development of community food systems, and creating new opportunities in food systems and agriculture.
The complete report is available for free in the Knowledge Center of First Nations’ website. Go to this link to access a copy: http://firstnations.org/knowledge-center/foods-health. You may have to set up a free user account to download the report.