Smoothie and Nutrition Grants: Mixing Fresh Veggies and Fruits Into Daily Diets

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Fresh spinach, tomato, carrot, celery, berries, bananas, tropical fruits and much more. These are the types of healthy foods Cherokee families will blend into delicious savory and sweet smoothies, thanks to a new $20,000 grant from First Nations Development Institute, based in Longmont, Colorado.

The money will fund the Cherokee Nation Food Distribution Program’s “Smoothie Demonstration Project” that gives 150 participants free blenders in exchange for meeting monthly to get smoothie recipes, and track activity and nutrition.

“Eating healthy, staying active and being physically fit should not be a burden,” said Leah Duncan, the tribe’s manager of the food distribution program. “The Smoothie Demonstration Project is a tasty, healthy, inexpensive gateway into a better life for tribal citizens willing to participate, especially since many of our participants are elders or families with young children and may want a faster, easier way to get in all their food groups on the go.”

The smoothie grant is one of 21 grants recently awarded by the First Nations Development Institute to tribes and Native organizations nationwide to start or expand nutrition education programming in their communities. The grants, part of the USDA's Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR), total $310,00, provided with the generous support of the Walmart Foundation.

The award amounts vary by grantee. Under this project, the FDPIR programs will expand access to nutrition education programs in Native communities and measure the effectiveness of education interventions. These grants allow tribes to design or expand culturally and community-based nutrition education projects that encourage individuals and families to improve their nutrition, healthy habits, plus generally broaden access to nutrition education programs.

Because of a variety of issues including inadequate funding, many FDPIR programs do not have the opportunity to provide nutrition education to their constituents. These grants are intended to expand these opportunities through activities such as nutrition workshops, cooking classes/food demonstrations, healthy recipe development, development and dissemination of educational materials, and more.

The recipients of the smoothie grants across 12 states are:

Cherokee Nation, Tahlequah, Oklahoma, $20,000

Cheyenne & Arapahoe Tribes of Oklahoma, Concho, Oklahoma, $20,000

Fort Belknap Indian Community, Harlem, Montana, $10,000

Gila River Indian Community, Sacaton, Arizona, $10,000

Lummi Nation Service Organization, Bellingham, Washington, $10,000

Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma, Ponca City, Oklahoma, $10,000

Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, Red Lake, Minnesota, $10,000

Seminole Nation of Oklahoma, Wewoka, Oklahoma, $20,000

Seneca Nation of Indians, Irving, New York, $20,000

South Fork Te-Moak Shoshone Indian Reservation, Spring Creek, Nevada, $10,000

Spirit Lake Tribe, Fort Totten, North Dakota, $20,000

Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, La Conner, Washington, $10,000

Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin, Oneida, Wisconsin, $20,000

White Mountain Apache Tribe, Whiteriver, Arizona, $10,000

Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin, Keshena, Wisconsin, $26,000

Choctaw Fresh Produce, Philadelphia, Mississippi, $15,000

Painted Desert Demonstration Project DBA the STAR School, Flagstaff, Arizona, $15,000

REDCO (Rosebud Economic Development Corporation), Mission, South Dakota, $15,000

Bishop Paiute Tribe, Bishop, California, $15,000

Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation, Porcupine, South Dakota, $15,000

Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, Auburn, Washington, $9,000

About First Nations Development Institute

For 36 years, using a three-pronged strategy of educating grassroots practitioners, advocating for systemic change, and capitalizing Indian communities, First Nations has been working to restore Native American control and culturally-compatible stewardship of the assets they own -- be they land, human potential, cultural heritage or natural resources -- and to establish new assets for ensuring the long-term vitality of Native American communities.

A Cherokee Nation media release and First Nations Development Institute press release contributed to this article.