Smoothie Grant Promotes Healthy Eating in the Cherokee Nation

Cherokee Nation Food Distribution Program employee prepares a smoothie before a Smoothie Project class begins.

Published July 20, 2017

TAHLEQUAH – A $20,000 smoothie grant received by the Cherokee Nation from First Nation’s Development Institute has improved fruit and vegetable consumption and mobility for Cherokee Nation citizens.

The eight-month smoothie demonstration grant provided more than 150 food distribution participants in Adair, Cherokee and Sequoyah counties with tools and recipes to encourage better use of the fruits and vegetables they receive through the tribe’s food distribution program.

Participants experienced improvements in cholesterol, blood sugar and metabolism. They also had an overall mobility increase of 80 percent and increased fruit and vegetable consumption by 25 percent, according to self-evaluations

Adair County resident and participant Janet Navarro said the program was a blessing and has improved healthy eating in her family.

“My grandchildren are drinking smoothies now for more vegetables,” Navarro said. “Without even realizing it, my blood sugar levels dropped and I lost inches off my waist.”

Each participant received a blender and accessories like shaker cups and measuring spoons needed to make smoothies, along with monthly classes on exercise and smoothie-making, taught by Cherokee Nation food distribution employees in Sallisaw, Stilwell and Tahlequah.

“At each meeting participants spoke out more; they were all very positive and open. They shared recipes, exercises, experiences and improvements in their health and well-being with each other,” said Food Distribution Manager Leah Duncan.

The tribe is currently working to secure more grant funding in order to expand the smoothie program to more counties within the Cherokee Nation’s jurisdiction.

Located in Longmont, Colorado, First Nations Development Institute’s mission is to support healthy Native communities.

Cherokee Nation Human Services operates the food distribution program to ensure citizens of federally recognized tribes who are income eligible and live within the tribe’s 14-county jurisdiction have access to healthy foods

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