It’s time again to take a look at one of America’s food aid programs. If you’re interested in the other programs I’ve covered in this series, check out the links!
SNAP (Food Stamps)
Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
National School Lunch Program (NSLP)
UN World Food Programme (International)
Meals on Wheels (Non-profit, not government program, although they do distribute on behalf of programs that feed the elderly)
Head Start 101
The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP)
The Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP)
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” – The Declaration of Independence
All men are created equal… It’s a founding principle in America, the core of who we think we are as a nation. But are we really born equal in this country or anywhere in the world? But all over this nation (and around the world) there are those who are born into situations that will stunt and limit them for their whole lives. Poverty, discrimination, and disability impede the unalienable rights of many.
Most of us are familiar with America’s history with the Native American population. As white settlers moved west in the 18th and 19th centuries, they decimated the native populations and forced the survivors onto smaller and smaller reservation lands. For the most part, these reservations were located on land that was no good for farming and without valuable mineral resources. The native cultural practices and languages were discouraged or forcibly changed. Cruely, the Indians were not allowed to be themselves, nor were they accepted even if they did change.
For generations, Native Americans have been behind the curve – perfectly capable but stunted by malnutrition, poor medical care and education on the reservations, and the cycle of poverty and suffering has just kept perpetuating itself. Of course there are exceptions, but when you start with an uphill climb just to get to a level playing field, it’s hard to win.
Many answers have been suggested. One of them is to include Native American reservations in government food distribution programs. The idea, of course, is that access to healthy foods will keep people healthy, and give children the nutritional support that they need to learn and grow. So the American government established a wing of the commodity-distribution program that specifically addresses nutrition on Indian reservations.
Being a commodity distribution program, the people who receive aid from the FDPIR program do not receive money or vouchers, but are given a monthly box of food stuffs from an approved list of foods. The program targets “low-income American Indian and non-Indian households that reside on a reservation, and households living in approved areas near a reservation or in Oklahoma that contain at least one person who is a member of a Federally-recognized tribe.”
To receive aid from this program, one must contact one’s tribal government to apply. Aid is distributed based on financial need, and families have to reapply every 12 months, or 24 months in the case of the elderly or disabled.
I hope you have appreciated this series of government program 101 posts. If you know of a program I missed or if you have any questions, please leave a comment!