Celebrating 10 years of the ANTHC Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations

August 27, 2018

In the last decade, the ANTHC Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) has steadily grown its reach to provide nutritious food to our Alaska Native people. In its first year, 2008, the FDPIR program shipped an average of 9,000 pounds of food a month to the rural communities it served. Today, through a partnership with the Food Bank of Alaska, the program averages 59,000 pounds a month. To put that into perspective, an adult male moose can weigh anywhere between 840-1,500 pounds. Initially, the FDPIR served 32 households and 137 people. Today, the federally funded program that provides a month’s supply of nutritional food assistance to income eligible Alaska Native, American Indian, and non-Indian households, provides food services to 373 households and 827 people. ANTHC was the first statewide agency to introduce the FDPIR program in Alaska, when the program was already 25 years in operation in the Lower 48. “Food and hunger insecurity remain a concern for many in rural Alaska Native communities,” said Gregory Nothstine, who has been the ANTHC Food Distribution Program Manager since the program’s inception. “The FDPIR program provides eligible Alaska Native families with supplemental nutritional food resources they need to help advance ANTHC’s vision that Alaska Native people are the healthiest people in the world.” The program collaborates with approved federally recognized Tribes in Alaska, helping them build the capacity to administer the FDPIR program to income eligible households in their communities. The outreach efforts have also hit the road, visiting our Alaska Native people in their home communities. In 2017, the FDPIR program visited nine Tribal communities. “We partner with community FDPIR programs to host events and provide cooking and nutrition education material, such as nutritional information and recipes, for the food items available through the program as well as how to incorporate traditional foods into their recipes,” Nothstine said. “We also provide nutritional incentives for attending these events, including items such as measuring cups and spoons, cutting boards, grocery bags, calendars and recipe cookbooks.” The program’s development has garnered national attention. Last month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service Western Regional Office Director, Jesus Mendoza, visited Bethel as the guest of the State of Alaska’s Health and Social Services Commissioner, Valerie Davidson, to see USDA funded programs operating in rural areas of the state. On his trip, he visited Anchorage and toured USDA funded programs, including ANTHC’s FDPIR program. In 2020, the Western Association Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations regional conference will be held in Anchorage. Nothstine’s persistence in advocating for the regional conference to be held in Alaska will highlight the unique challenges Alaska’s FDPIR program has overcome to get food to some of our most rural and geographically isolated communities. Along with income eligibility, participation requires income-eligible households to reside in an established FDPIR Tribal agency service area, such as on a reservation or in a federally recognized (Alaska Native) Tribal agency community; as well as, any approved near-area of service, as long as the household contains at least one Tribal enrolled member of a federally recognized Tribe. The FDPIR program comes with its own software to track inventory and help issue monthly food benefits, based on household size. Federally recognized Tribes in Alaska are all eligible to administer FDPIR provided they can follow USDA regulations to guarantee food safety, protect client privacy and meet on-time reporting requirements. For more information visit the ANTHC FDPIR webpage at: https://anthc.org/what-we-do/traditional-foods-and-nutrition/food-distribution-program-on-indian-reservations/ or by emailing info.fdpir@anthc.org.

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