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PBS Documentary on Native American Food Movement, Insecurity
USAgNet - 12/08/2017

Partnership With Native Americans (PWNA), a nonprofit committed to championing hope for a brighter future for Native Americans, has partnered with Front Page Productions, a full-service, high-definition staging production company, to share the story of a return to healthy, traditional diets in Indian Country.

Nearly one in four (23 percent) of Native families experience low food security. Often, remote reservations have few supermarkets or access to fresh fruits, vegetables and whole foods. Lack of access to these foods fuels for Native Americans the highest diabetes rate in the U.S.

The Public Television segment, hosted by actor James Earl Jones, explores a return to healthy, ancestral diets to combat food insecurity and health issues. Native Chef Lois Ellen Frank, PhD; Daniel Vega, director of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe Department of Language and Culture; and Rafael Tapia Jr., PWNA vice president of programs, discuss the Native American Food Movement and their work to address food insecurity.

"Healthy food choices are in abundance for most Americans, but that's not always the case for our Native American citizens," said Tapia. "This documentary captures the reality of food deserts and how traditional knowledge and local ingredients can reduce the shortage of healthy foods and dietary deficiencies, for sustained health and wellness."

PWNA addresses food insecurity through healthy food access, nutrition training, garden support and garden training. Partnering with the Pascua Yaqui tribe (PYT) in Tucson, Ariz., the Huyapo Bwaa'ame ancestral garden project was created two years ago to engage the PYT community and reinforce the importance of incorporating tribal knowledge and cul­ture into answers to healthier living.

"The goal is to provide a better understanding of ancestral foods and their holistic spiritual, mental, physical and emotional impact, as well as the connection of the land to the people and the people to the land," said Vega. "From the harvest to youth engagement, the ancestral garden continues to impact our community."

The documentary also features Dr. Frank, a Native food historian and chef who has spent her career chronicling food and habits of Southwest tribes. Dr. Frank delivers nutrition training, focusing on indigenous food options.

"Native American Food Movement" is airing on PBS stations nationwide. Check local listings or visit, and call (877) 618-0610 to learn how you can get involved.

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