Olo for Good Donates $150,000 for PWNA to Distribute Ancestral Foods

Olo for Good was launched in 2021 by parent company Olo, a leading open SaaS platform for restaurants, to integrate social impact and responsibility into their business. With Olo for Good, they joined the Pledge 1% movement, committing one percent of their time, product and equity to initiatives that foster sustainable contributions in communities where their employees live, work and serve.

As part of their 2022 Pledge 1% commitment, an Olo employee nominated PWNA and we received a generous grant of $150,000 from the Olo for Good Fund, a Donor-Advised Fund of Tides Foundation, to support food sovereignty and safety in Native communities. PWNA will use this grant in two ways – to support our first-ever ancestral foods distribution and to distribute Watts of Love portable solar lights, both to Tribal communities in the Northern Plains and Southwest regions of the U.S.

Native Americans suffer from the highest rates of food insecurity, poverty, diet-related diseases and other challenges due to historic and present-day systemic and institutional inequities. One out of every four Indigenous families experiences food insecurity, compared to one in nine Americans overall.

While it is imperative to improve food access, it is also important to explore complementary solutions, especially those that promote food sovereignty for Native Americans. Food sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods as well as the right to define their own food and agriculture systems. Tribal communities have begun to revisit solutions rooted in food sovereignty as an answer to food insecurity.

Among Native Americans, there is a strong desire for stewardship of cultural resources to increase access to traditional foods, as well as strengthen skills for self-reliance, including support for home food production. For many Native Americans, food sovereignty is the ultimate long-term solution to eliminate food insecurity, according to Feeding America. Their recommendation is that anyone working with tribes strive to support the Native food sovereignty movement by increasing funding for the purchase of traditional, locally sourced foods like bison, wild rice, salmon, catfish and blue cornmeal.

Thanks to this grant from the Olo for Good fund, PWNA will be able to purchase Native ancestral foods from Native producers and distribute them to the Native communities for the first time in our organization’s history. Alongside PWNA’s Native-led, peer-to-peer ancestral foods training that teaches individuals how to prepare traditional Indigenous meals, this ancestral foods distribution will complement food sovereignty efforts in the Tribal communities PWNA serves.

PWNA will also use a small portion of the grant to purchase and distribute portable solar lights from Watts of Love. Often, Native homes lack sufficient electricity and lighting infrastructure, increasing the use of costly solutions and decreasing the amount of time available to tribal citizens for daily activities. Insufficient lighting also increases the danger of walking outside after dark. The portable solar lights PWNA plans to distribute will address all these issues of savings, safety and productivity. The Watts of Love portable solar lights can also support emergency response efforts on the reservations, affording a bright “strobe” light effect for easier rescues and helping emergency responders mobilize more efficiently at night.

This generous funding will truly support Native priorities. PWNA is humbled and grateful for Olo’s support and dedication to advancing meaningful aspects of racial and ethnic equity and inclusion, while also decreasing food insecurity and increasing safety in diverse communities.

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