Tribal Food Security

Hunger impacts every community in the United States, yet Native Americans are more likely to face hunger. Before the pandemic, 1 in 4 Native Americans struggled with hunger - more than twice the rate of white individuals.

Feeding Wisconsin is working with Tribal partners to support programs that increase nutrition security to ensure that all Tribal members have the food that they need and desire, and Tribal food sovereignty by expanding support and capacity of Tribal producers.

Tribal Nutrition Security and Food Sovereignty

On August 13th, partners came together to celebrate and discuss the importance of several recent efforts to improve nutrition security of Tribal members and support Tribal agricultural and economic development. Partners discussed the Tribal Elder Food Box Program, Oneida and Menominee Nation's USDA Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations 638 Self-Determination Demonstration Joint Project, and Oneida's Food Distribution Center renovations.


Tribal Elder Food Box Program

The Tribal Elder Food Box Program was inspired and implemented through a partnership between Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Forest County Potawatomi, Ho-Chunk Nation, Lac Courte Oreilles, Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin, Oneida Nation, Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Stockbridge-Munsee Community Band of Mohican Indians, Feeding Wisconsin, Intertribal Agriculture Council, Wisconsin Food Hub Cooperative, Department of Ag, Trade and Consumer Protection, UW-Madison, and healthTIDE. In order to increase access of Indigenous foods for Tribal Elders (Tribal members over 55 years old), Feeding Wisconsin and partners purchase foods from Indigenous-based and other regional food producers to pack nutritious, desired food boxes for Tribal Elders.

In the 2021 pilot program, 10,800 boxes (averaging 20 pounds each) were distributed to Tribal Elders of seven Tribal Nations biweekly between late June through early December. In total 192,000 pounds of produce and 21,000 pounds of proteins were included. 41% of the food purchased for boxes was purchased from Indigenous producers. The additional foods were purchased from non-Indigenous local producers. Boxes contained a combination of protein (beef, bison, fish, chicken, and pork) and produce (greens, apples, berries, corn, beans, squash, potatoes, tomatoes, and other seasonal produce) representative of traditional, Indigenous foods as desired by Tribal Elders.


Core funding for the 2022 season has been secured and we are finalizing details of the program. We anticipate distributing Tribal Elder boxes in partnership with an expanded number of Tribal Nations, likely May through December. If you are a Tribal Leader interested in connecting your members to the program, please reach out to Stephanie Dorfman. If you are a Tribal Elder interested in participating in the program, please contact your food distribution office to learn more about the time and date of distribution.

How to Become a Producer Partner

If you are an Indigenous or non-Indigenous local producer, producing seasonal foods (produce, protein, non-perishables), and would like to learn more about becoming a producer partner please consider the following resources:

Next steps, please contact April Yancer, Farm to School Coordinator at the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection at 608-512-2950 or to get connected.

How to Contribute a Recipe for the Tribal Elder Food Box Newsletter

Are you a Native chef or home cook looking to help Elders more easily prepare nutritious, seasonal meals? We are collecting recipes made from seasonal fresh foods from the Great Lakes Region. We want easy-to-make, small-portion meals for Elders. Recipes will be shared in each Elder Food Box from May-December 2022.

If you are interested in sharing a recipe to be included, please send the following information by email to Jen Falck:

  • Recipe,
  • Photo,
  • Mailing Address,
  • 2-3 sentences on why you chose that recipe, and
  • Your Tribal Affiliation

How to Become a Supporting Partner

If you are interested in contributing to this project we are seeking funds to round out the items included in the Tribal Elder boxes to include wild rice, maple syrup, and other traditional, non-perishable items.