Navajo Vice President Rex Lee Jim praises USDA child hunger initiative

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Contact: Jared King
Navajo Nation Washington Office
Communications Director
Cell 202-200-0625

For Immediate Release

Navajo Vice President Rex Lee Jim praises USDA child hunger initiative

WASHINGTON— Navajo Nation Vice President Jim applauded the Navajo Nation in their selection by the USDA to receive a $2.4 million award to initiate a two-year Food Access Navigator pilot project. This project will address food gaps and improve local economies in four to five chapters in the Eastern Navajo, Fort Defiance, and Shiprock agencies in the Navajo Nation.

The grant will allow the Navajo Nation to create 19 jobs in the Navajo Nation Department of Health to develop anti-hunger policies and best practices throughout the Navajo Nation. For this project, the Navajo Nation will hire and train people called Food Access Navigators to promote access to anti-hunger and healthy food programs. These programs include school meals, food stamps, food distribution, and the Women, Infants and Children Program.

Speaking in a live USDA radio program yesterday, Vice President Jim thanked USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and Kevin Concannon, Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services, for their leadership to end child hunger.

“Rural and tribal communities have unique barriers that prevent them from participating in USDA food and feeding programs. There are many logistical issues we need to overcome. For instance, there is no asset inventory map of refrigerators, kitchens, and transportation. Many communities do not know about USDA feeding programs and if they find a program, they discover that there are innumerable barriers to participation from infrastructure to filling out an online application for a community where there is no Internet access,” said Vice President Jim.

New Mexico Appleseed, a non-profit organization, will provide training for staff and will produce training materials, and provide ongoing technical assistance to the project.

Made possible by the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, the projects target areas or populations with elevated levels of food insecurity or gaps in nutrition assistance program coverage. The Act requires at least one project be carried out on an Indian reservation in a rural area with a service population having a prevalence of diabetes that exceeds 15 percent.