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Running Strong: Expanding Food Security for Native American Communities

For decades, Running Strong for American Indian Youth® has been providing essential support to Native American families. We’re ensuring access to nonperishable and frozen food items, a crucial aid to supplementing their food budgets. Our efforts span across different locations, with the distribution of food boxes and backing of food pantries on reservations, including Pine Ridge and Cheyenne River.

Over the years, we’ve seen an increasing demand for our services. In response to this, we’re thrilled to announce a major development for the coming year – the opening of our own food pantry at our field office on Pine Ridge, named Tipi Waste Un Zanipi (Wellness Through a Good Home).

Introducing the Walk-in Food Pantry

Equipped with two large freezers and shelving units, the newly-established food pantry is set to revolutionize our food program at Pine Ridge. Transitioning from the periodic distribution of food boxes annually, we now offer a walk-in food pantry operating twice weekly.

Today, hundreds of Lakota families have free access to frozen and nonperishable food. By visiting our field office, they can fill a box with up to 30 pounds of their chosen items.

Expanding Food Distribution Programs

Additionally, at our new Oyate Ta Kola Ku Community Center on Pine Ridge, we’re enhancing our food box distribution program from quarterly to 300 boxes per month.

In partnership with the Eagle Butte Food Pantry on the Cheyenne River reservation, we are planning to distribute a total of 4,000 food boxes over the next 12 months. Overall, we anticipate distributing 14,000 food boxes in the coming year through all three food pantries.

Summer Youth Feeding Program & Smart Sacks Initiative

Our services are not just limited to food pantries. Through our Summer Youth Feeding Program on Cheyenne River, we are on track to provide a total of 9,800 meals over the course of 49 weekdays from June 5 to August 12, to an average of 200 children.

On the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, we’re also contributing through our “Smart Sacks” initiative – distributing grocery bags filled with food to students at the Wakpala K-12 School. This ensures that the students, along with their siblings and parents, don’t go hungry over the weekend.

Mobile Market: Bringing Fresh Produce to Remote Areas

Very soon, we’ll be operating our mobile market again, bringing fresh, locally-grown produce to residents in more remote areas on Pine Ridge. For those unable to visit the Medicine Root Farmers Market, this mobile service is a boon. With the added benefit of accepting EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer) cards, we’re helping to make fresh vegetables and fruits more accessible for hundreds of Pine Ridge residents.

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