The Mobile Grocery truck, MoGro, launched its first day of service at the San Felipe Pueblo on June 19, welcoming 100 residents who came to support the launch and purchase a variety of healthy and affordable foods.
MoGro is a partner in the Notah Begay III (NB3) Foundation's tw0-year landmark initiative with the San Felipe Pueblo and the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health at San Felipe to combat childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes. NB3 will additionally provide nutrition education, physical activity and youth leadership opportunities to youth to counter the health crisis severely impacting Native children.
“Native American children as young as 4-years old are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes," stated Crystal Echo Hawk, executive director of the NB3 Foundation, founded in 2005 by 4-time PGA TOUR winner Notah Begay III. "If we do not intervene now, we are facing the reality that this will be the first generation of Native American children to not outlive their parents."
The NB3 Foundation’s goal for the project is to achieve evidence-based results to improve the health of San Felipe children and families and to achieve findings that can inform the development of model programming elsewhere in Indian Country. The Foundation, headquartered at the Santa Ana Pueblo in New Mexico, serves more than 10,000 American Indian youth in 11 states through its sports, health and youth leadership programs and initiatives. The NB3 Foundation’s project at San Felipe Pueblo is supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and other state and national funders and partners.
“The NB3 Foundation and our Founder, Notah Begay III, are committed to investing in innovative and evidence-based initiatives that can provide strategies and pathways to reduce the epidemics of childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes among all Native American children," explained Echo Hawk.
MoGro will not only serve San Felipe Pueblo but also Santo Domingo, Cochiti and Jemez Pueblos two times a week.
MoGro is the brainchild of Rick Schneiders, the retired chairman and CEO of the food distributor Sysco Corp., and his wife Beth. The couple started the grocery service on wheels in 2010 after John Hopkins’ pilot studies revealed a major concern of American Indians is the loss of their agricultural tradition and the unavailability of healthy food. So the Schneiders embarked on a mission to eliminate sugar-heavy foods by bringing healthy, affordable and sustainable food to the pueblos, many of whom reside 50 miles from a grocery story.
“It is a landmark and historic day in our partnership with the Pueblo of San Felipe, MoGro and Johns Hopkins to make a difference in the health and lives of San Felipe children and families,” Echo Hawk said in a statement.
The mobile grocery was appreciated, as evidenced by the strong turnout of a multi-generational crowd, even before the MoGro truck opened its doors in the village of San Felipe. MoGro’s first San Felipe customer. Veronica Esquibel, a tribal member, expressed her gratefulness for the selection and prices. “It saves me a 45-minute drive to Albuquerque," she said in the NB3
press release. “This is very convenient for the community since it’s closer to the village and within walking distance."
Another resident, Christine Tenorio, praised the food options for children. “It’s good for parents to bring their kids so they can pick out healthy food instead of bad food,” Tenorio said.
San Felipe Pueblo Governor Anthony Ortiz also attended the June 19 launch. “MoGro has brought attention and concern for the health of our community members,” the Governor stated after taking a trip through the truck and helping his wife pick out some groceries. The Governor expressed his approval over the convenience of MoGro since many members of the San Felipe Pueblo struggle to make the 30-mile round trip to Bernalillo for groceries. “MoGro is a good project to bring healthy food that our community members deserve… we hoped this day would come and here it is, it’s a reality. I hope it to be a great success."