Notah Begay III Foundation & Shakopee Tribe Team Up to Promote Healthy Beverage Consumption in Native Communities 

Published May 12, 2018
$250,000 SMSC grant to expand foundation’s Water First! initiative.
PRIOR LAKE, MINNESOTA – The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC)announced today a $250,000 grant to the Notah Begay III (NB3) Foundation to expand its Water First! healthy beverage initiative. Awarded through the SMSC’s Seeds of Native Health campaign, the new funding will expand the initiative, which focuses on reducing Native American children’s consumption of sugary beverages and increasing their access to and intake of safe drinking water. The SMSC’s contribution augments funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and other contributors.

Shakopee Mdewakatan Chairman Charles Vig

“The Notah Begay III Foundation is a champion for Native youth and is doing impressive work to improve the health of our next generation through its Water First! cohort and other national campaigns,” said SMSC Chairman Charles R. Vig. “Our tribe’s Seeds of Native Health campaign is proud to join the NB3 Foundation in helping solve Indian Country’s dietary health crisis by addressing the overconsumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.”

With this new funding, the NB3 Foundation will provide micro-grants to tribes and Native-led organizations in Minnesota and Washington to reduce the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and increase water consumption in their communities. It will also help expand the Foundation’s Zero to 60 Challenge to encourage the switch from sugary drinks to water across Indian Country.
“We started the Water First! initiative several years ago, with the goal of connecting community partners with effective and efficient resources to support their meaningful work of encouraging Native youth and families to make healthier choices to improve their lives,” said NB3 Foundation President and CEO Justin Kii Huenemann. “We are thankful to the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community for their continued support, and with these resources we look forward to expanding our program so it reaches more Native children across the country.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sugar-sweetened beverages – including soft drinks, energy drinks and sweetened milk or milk alternatives – are the most common source of added sugar in children’s diets. Frequent consumption is associated with obesity, type 2 diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease and tooth decay. Because more than 45% of Native American children ages two to five years old are obese, reducing the consumption of unhealthy, sugary beverages in Native communities is critical to reducing this obesity epidemic.
The SMSC’s contribution will also help build awareness and educate practitioners about model practices that support water consumption and healthy nutrition. In addition to developing informational resources for tribes, schools and community organizations, the NB3 Foundation will host two Healthy Beverage Summits in fall 2018 and 2019. This conference series brings together community members, organizations and agencies to advance knowledge, best practices and partnerships. The Foundation will also add healthy beverage-related sessions to its national Healthy Kids! Healthy Futures! National Conference in 2019.
The NB3 Foundation is one of the SMSC’s original strategic partners in the Seeds of Native Health campaign, re-granting $1.1 million in SMSC funds to 24 tribes and nonprofits across the country for projects relating to childhood nutrition.

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