Pine Ridge might as well be on an island. There are no quick runs to the store to pick up a few items, and grocery shopping can take up most of your day. The South Dakota Native American reservation is almost 100 miles away from the nearest grocery store that provides healthy food, and the people of Pine Ridge have limited choices in regards to healthy food and fresh fruit and vegetables.
Hunger on the Pine Ridge Reservation
The Pine Ridge reservation is 80 miles away from the nearest grocery store that provides healthy food choices like fresh fruit and vegetables. There are a few convenience stores that are closer to Pine Ridge, but they are much more expensive, don’t have healthy choices, and the food is near its expiration date far too often.
When someone makes the 160-mile round trip to the grocery store, they often stock up on what they can because the trips to the store can get expensive. During a trip to the store, it’s quite common for people to load up on processed foods with a long shelf life rather than buy fresh foods that will expire much sooner. Gas prices aren’t exactly cheap, and these trips can take up half of the day. Additionally, not everyone has access to transportation for that great a distance. Going to the grocery store is definitely a huge undertaking, and one shouldn’t need to travel nearly 100 miles for a variety of higher-quality foods.
The Pine Ridge Native American Reservation is home to 40,000 members of the Oglala Lakota Nation and spans nearly 3,500 square miles. However, those 3,500 square miles might as well be a food desert. Due to limited healthy food choices, the scarcity of grocery stores, and the high poverty rate, residents of the reservation are forced into a profound state of food insecurity. And this will continue for generations if something isn’t done to combat it.
Light at the End of the Tunnel?
As a result, food scarcity, obesity and diabetes have become epidemics for Native Americans, but there could be light at the end of the tunnel. Programs like the “Medicine Root Gardening Program” are helping Native Americans plant and grow fresh fruits and vegetables, giving them access to the foods they need. The goal of these food programs are to reduce malnutrition by providing healthy meals and fresh produce to children and their families. Whether it’s household or community gardens, these programs are introducing new generations to growing and eating food they planted, watered, nurtured, and harvested. These gardens also save on trips to the grocery store that is 80 miles away.
There are also organizations that package and distribute healthy foods to communities like the Pine Ridge Reservation, and Against Global Hunger is on a mission to end hunger across the globe, especially Pine Ridge, through the packing and distribution of healthy food packages. By teaming up with like-minded nonprofit organizations, we are able to save lives around the corner and around the globe.
Volunteering With Against Global Hunger
Against Global Hunger has teamed up with missionaries, humanitarian organizations, and other partners around the world to get much-needed food to communities that might not get them otherwise. Partnerships are the lifeblood of AGH, and we can’t do it without caring volunteers, organizations, and donors. We have partnered with schools, organizations, and church groups in an attempt to eliminate hunger across the globe. Whether you’re volunteering or need to log hours for community service projects, AHG can help.
Working with Against Global Hunger
Here are just a few examples of how you can help Against Global Hunger:
- Filling food boxes
- Moving boxes
- Labeling bags
- Answering the phone
- Helping set up for an event
Hunger During the COVID-19 Pandemic
There weren’t very many good things that came from the COVID-19 pandemic, but if you sift through all of the negatives, you will find some positives. With food shortages and lockdowns, some people started individual and community gardens which provided them with healthy foods they probably wouldn’t have otherwise had access to.
The gardens helped save money since people aren’t buying processed foods, and trips to the store waned. So many people lost their main source of income, putting even more pressure on food distribution organizations like Against Global Hunger. Limited household budgets, lockdowns, mandates, and limited access to meal services created an even bigger problem with food insecurity. The effect of COVID-19 on food insecurity varies across different communities, and Native American reservations were hit hard.
With social distancing, vaccines, and mask mandates, the government, at the local and federal levels, made crucial decisions that affected how organizations could distribute food in 2020. Eventually, the mask and social distancing mandates were lifted throughout most of the country, and millions of people have been vaccinated. But other variants of COVID-19 are expected, which could lead to more red tape for food distribution.
Facts about poverty and hunger in America
Even in the world’s greatest food-producing nation, children and adults face poverty and hunger in every county across America.
- In 2019, 34 million people lived in poverty in America. For a family of four, that means earning just $25,000 per year.
- Before the coronavirus pandemic, more than 35 million people faced hunger in the United States, including more than 10 million children.
- A household that is food insecure has limited or uncertain access to enough food to support a healthy life.
- Children are more likely to face food insecurity than any other group in the United States.
- The coronavirus pandemic has left millions of families without stable employment. More than 42 million people, including 13 million children, may experience food insecurity.