A Proud and Healthy Diet 

Through Northern Plains Reservation Aid® (NPRA) of Partnership With Native Americans® (PWNA), our Program Partners receive standard food deliveries to help them provide hot daily meals for Elders. Our Partner Carol B. at the Oglala Elderly Nutrition Center, is currently providing 70 daily meals through home delivery or drive-through pickups for Elders in need on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. They serve Elders like Ingrid O., age 70, who is careful to eat a balanced diet.

A Proud and Healthy Diet 

Elderly Nutrition Centers (ENC) are a critical need on reservations. They serve as a place for Elders to gather and to eat healthy, hot meals together. For some Elders, it may be their only meal of the day. Through Northern Plains Reservation Aid® (NPRA), a program of Partnership With Native Americans® (PWNA), Program Partners at ENCs and senior centers get deliveries of staple foods to help provide for their elderly population. 

The Oglala ENC on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota provides healthy, hot meals to 70 seniors five days a week. Our Program Partner Carol B. supervises the ENC and said since the start of the pandemic, a lot of recipients are still staying home for their health. Some are in wheelchairs and lack transportation. So, the ENC is offering curbside pickup and home delivery for those who need it. 

Every weekday for the last 10 years, Oglala Sioux Elder Ingrid O., age 70, has traveled to the ENC. Dealing with health issues for 28 years, Ingrid is careful about what she eats. Her favorite meal at the ENC is soup, and she is happy any time they have fresh produce and proteins.  

A healthy diet is essential, especially for Elders. The Centers for Disease Control state that Native American and Alaska Native adults have a significantly higher prevalence of diabetes than their counterparts, especially women. 

Ingrid has raised her granddaughter Beau to eat a healthy diet as well. She shared, “Of course, she eats healthy; she eats with me!” Beau is 18 and will enter college this fall to study either animation or veterinary science. According to Carol, most Elders on the reservation are raising grandchildren. This “grandfamily” situation stems from a long and proud tradition of extended family relationships and kinship care in Native cultures, but it is often a financial burden on the Elders.  

Thanks to daily meals at the ENC, Ingrid can save money for other necessities. There’s no restaurant in the small town of Oglala, and the local mercantile store offers a limited selection of fresh produce. To get to an actual grocery store, Ingrid travels about 35 miles to Chadron, Nebraska. In fact, Native families suffer the highest rates of food insecurity and diet-related diseases due to systemic and institutional barriers that pre-date COVID-19, like food deserts and limited access to grocery stores. 

Age-old food inequities make solutions like NPRA’s year-round food and water deliveries vital to daily sustenance for Elders. 

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