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September 03, 2013 06:30 PM

Nutrition Needs On Standing Rock

Fort Yates, ND

As people nationwide work to fight hunger during the month of September, nutrition needs exist on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation.

Sitting in both North Dakota and South Dakota, the reservation covers a lot land including Corson County. Those involved with food assistance say a lot of help is needed there.

"If we didn't have these programs available here, I'm sure there would be people in dire need of food," Food Distribution Program Director Charles Gates said.

Gates says he sees that need everyday. 

Somewhere around 600 households on the South Dakota side of the Standing Rock Indian Reservation participate in the Food Distribution Program, Gates said. Between 600 and 700 households use food stamps.

Looking at schools in Corson County, more than 90 percent of students in Wakpala are eligible for free or reduced lunch, 83 percent in McLaughlin and 71 percent in McIntosh.

Judie Brown Otter Pheasant lives near McLaughlin with her husband and two grandchildren. They receive food assistance.

"I'm thankful for programs like this because some of us are unable to provide for our families," Brown Otter Pheasant said.

Some officials on Standing Rock are also concerned with the types of food people are eating.
Mary Ann Helper travels into communities to distribute food and finds evidence healthy options aren't common enough in households.

"Right away I notice they grab for the fresh produce like oranges or apples or grapes," Helper said.

Erich Schaffhauser: The kids do?

Helper: The kids do, yes.

Officials are working to remedy that as healthy options do exist.

"I think we still have a long way to go. And most of it I think right now, we're trying to do it and I think other food programs are, we need to educate our people that there's a healthier way to eat," Gates said.

Gates hopes that message reaches the younger generation along with the food many on the reservation need.

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