- By Rich Tupica
PINE RIDGE, S.D. — In effort to provide COVID-19 relief to 1,700 families, Running Strong for American Indian Youth delivered 44,200 pounds of food today to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.
The special delivery of shelf stable groceries was delivered to Running Strong’s field office on the reservation, Tipi Waste Un Zanipi (Wellness Through A Good Home).
Organizers said in a statement the groceries were delivered not only because food insecurity is a prevalent issue in remote rural communities, but also because Native American reservations are facing especially taxing conditions during the coronavirus crisis. Many have restricted travel beyond the reservation and have limited trips to already-scarce grocery stores.
“It’s a scary time out here on the plains because our resources are an hour away in each direction,” said Dave Lone Elk, Running Strong’s field coordinator. “Groceries are hard to come by, too. I think this shipment is going to make a big difference in helping people get through the next couple months.” Running Strong for American Indian Youth’s ongoing mission is “to help Native American communities with immediate survival needs,” and with a pandemic still spreading across Indian Country, they’ve kept busy with that noble goal.
According to a statement from Running Strong, each of the 1,700 food boxes delivered to Tipi Waste contain 26 pounds of fruit, vegetables, protein and grains. One box is designed to feed two meals a day for a family of four for two weeks and all boxes will be distributed from Tipi Waste in their entirety by utilizing a contactless drive-up/drive-through system.
With the spread of COVID-19 in mind, the delivery was managed by a specialized transportation service to ensure as few points of contact as possible during the route. The process, which was approved by Oglala Sioux Tribe authorities, also required the food to sit for a mandatory two-day disinfecting period prior to delivery.
Looking back, Running Strong built Tipi Waste Un Zanipi in 1997 in response to community need on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. This was followed by a 1,280 sq. foot addition in 2017, in addition to a loading dock. Tipi Waste Un Zanipi is also the distribution hub for the annual Heat Match, annual winter clothes distribution, the headquarters for Running Strong water connections and other seasonal programs.
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