Sinte Food Program Puts Education First

Aug 15th, 2000 | By | Category: 12-1: Celebrating Our Students, Tribal College News

No one is starving on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota, despite high poverty and unemployment rates. But if those rates are going to change, education will lead the way. Hunger is a recognized barrier to education there. With a long round trip across the vast reservation, a university student can be gone from home from first light to late at night. Combined with a scarcity of pocket change, students often go without nutritious meals.

With a $15,000 grant from First Nations Development Institute, made possible by the Philip Morris Companies, Inc., Sinte Gleska University will provide free meals to students two evenings a week. Combined with the university’s existing program to provide a free noon meal four times weekly, the evening meals will enable students to transcend the hunger threshold and concentrate on their schooling, like students anywhere. The talents and abilities nurtured at the university are crucial to developing the reservation economy.

The lunch program currently provides 5,100 lunches per semester, and the university anticipates providing an additional 4,500 evening meals. Buffalo stew is included each week, with meat from a herd managed by the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. The menu also includes fresh fruits and vegetables, which are not always accessible on reservations.

First Nations Development Institute works with tribes and rural or reservation-based American Indian nonprofits to build sustainable reservation economies. Philip Morris is the nation’s largest corporate funder in the fight against hunger, contributing more than $130 million in direct grants and food product donations since 1990. In the second year of the Native American Hunger Program, First Nations and Philip Morris have sponsored 17 tribal projects totaling $205,000 in grants.

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