Getting Through The Summer

Summer can be a risky time for Elders, with unpredictable threats like power outages, thunderstorms, and wildfires. Thanks to our generous donors, Elders receive summer boxes of helpful supplies to help them weather summer emergencies. These critical boxes include items such as water, sunscreen, hygiene products, and food.

Our reservation partner, Carol, heads up the Oglala Elderly Nutrition Center (ENC) on the Pine Ridge Reservation. As a partner, Carol provides hot meals and distributes critical supplies like the summer emergency boxes to Elders in need. Her deliveries have been a lifeline since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, with Elders unable to congregate at her ENC.

The ENC is a small building with a broken stove and little space for storage, but brighter days are coming. Soon, Carol will be able to operate out of a newly renovated building across the street. Once that happens, Elders can eat at the center with proper social distancing.

Connie of the Oglala Sioux Tribe picks up ENC meals for her husband who has participated at the ENC for five years. Due to health problems, he is unable to work and receives disability. Connie helps support him and her four grandchildren by working part-time at the local mercantile store. She says they often struggle and have poor diets because they can’t afford healthy food all the time

Their groceries either come from the mercantile or a store in Chadron, Nebraska, about an hour away. In a 2014 study from the Diné Policy Institute, more than half of those surveyed indicated that they normally travel to off-reservation stores to purchase groceries.

The local store has a limited selection of food. Carol says the fresh and healthy items are usually gone before most people get there. “The [reservation] prices are so high that by the time you get the [food], you barely can afford toilet paper and even that’s expensive. These [summer] boxes really come in handy,” she says smiling.

Connie’s family has received emergency boxes from us before. “It does come in handy, especially the wipes, bath essentials, and canned goods. Those things are too expensive normally. We struggle here on the reservation. I see a lot of people struggling… And my God, the gas prices are too high. We use the money saved from the supplies to put gas in the car.”

The Oglala ENC is distributing summer emergency boxes to 60 Elders to help them get through summer and weather the unexpected.

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