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Dec 15 2009 12:00AM
Milagro Supports Center for American Indian Health with Kellogg Grant
American Indian youth are some of the most underserved and nutritionally at-risk children in America today, plagued with epidemics of obesity and diabetes. The first peoples of our nation traditionally had healthy diets and healthy lifestyles, until they were forced to change their living habits because of subjugation and exploitation. Thanks to our partnership with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Milagro Foundation is supporting the Center for American Indian Health in their effort to restore nutrition among Indian youth in three rural reservation communities: the Navajo and White Mountain Apache communities in Arizona, and the Santo Domingo Pueblo in New Mexico.
In November 2009, Milagro’s Executive Director Shelley Brown and Lindsey Ford, Milagro consultant for the Kellogg projects, had the honor of visiting two of these communities and met with the Center for American Indian Health staff and local tribal leaders implementing the project. Over the next three years, the program will increase access to healthy and affordable foods and promote nutrition and healthy development in Native youth through edible school gardens and nutrition curriculum. In addition, outreach to and support of Native farmers will help strengthen local healthy food systems and increase access to fresh produce. Tribal Advisory Councils to the project have been established in each community and are ensuring that core curriculum and program activities are centered in indigenous cultural wisdom and strength. Elders will help teach youth traditional ways of growing food and eating.
We were glad to visit the program close to its inception and witness the enthusiasm in the communities for this much-needed project. Among the crops to be grown in the school gardens are the “three sisters:” the traditional foods of corn, beans and squash. Organic, non-hybrid seeds will be used in the gardens, and community volunteers will help with garden maintenance. Each tribe has its own unique culture, tradition and agricultural history that will impact and empower the work, and we look forward to reporting back as this critical program unfolds.