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2501 Grant Enhances Food Sovereignty Among Native Communities

Posted by Joyce El Kouarti, Communications Director, Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement in Equity Initiatives
Nov 30, 2023
A woman smiling while making a smoothie

Since 2017, FEED 7 Generations has worked to improve the health and wellness of Native people in the Pacific Northwest.

Based in King County, Washington, FEED 7 Generations creates environmental health through land management strategies, community health projects, and direct food access projects.

“We are a tribal-led food sovereignty organization,” said Executive Director Romajean Thomas. “We want to help Native people in our area be as healthy as possible while ensuring that our dollars stay within the local food system and within Native communities.”

To further these efforts, the organization was able to secure a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) 2501 grant, designed to help underserved and veteran farmers, ranchers and foresters. The organization is using this grant to strengthen local businesses and enhance food security and community connections.

They began by conducting a needs analysis.

“We’ve been out traveling to these farms, some of them really far out there, to meet with producers and understand their needs.” said Thomas. “We’ve had great success in building relationships.”

Using the data collected, the organization created a Native Grown and Gathered resource directory featuring Native farms and food producers in Washington, Oregon and Idaho.

“We want to make it easy for Native people to eat food grown, harvested, made and produced by other Native people,” said Thomas. “This will help catalyze food sovereignty efforts and strengthen Native food systems nationwide.”

The needs analysis also revealed that Native producers would benefit from additional training opportunities. With that, the organization hosted an annual food sovereignty symposium to showcase regional Native agricultural production and producers. Attendees could also learn how to start a food business, bring cultural traditions into the marketplace, and develop strong connections within Indian Country’s food system.

Thomas and her team plan to coordinate additional trainings to connect food producers with the programs and grants offered by USDA.

“We are able to identify tribal producers within our communities and ask them what they need, then connect them to appropriate USDA products that help them,” she said.

“The 2501 grant has helped us to bring native food to Native people while enhancing the local food economy. We see this as a platform for our food sovereignty efforts for this region and hopefully nationally.”

Category/Topic: Equity Initiatives