The program, part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s Nutrition Strategy, will help reduce food insecurity and improve health care outcomes among American Indian and Alaska Native people.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, through the Indian Health Service agency, is announcing the availability of $2.5 million in funding to support the development of produce prescription programs in Native communities. Produce prescription programs help individuals and families who are experiencing food insecurity and/or diet‑related health problems more easily obtain fresh fruits and vegetables by receiving a prescription from a health care provider. Launching these programs in Native communities will support the Administration’s efforts to reduce food insecurity and improve their health outcomes among American Indian and Alaska Native people by increasing their access to fresh produce and other healthy traditional foods.
“Improving health through better nutrition is a priority for the Biden-Harris Administration, and an important part of our work to reduce food insecurity and foster nutrition equity,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Today’s award will ensure that tribal communities have better access to the nutritious food they need to stay healthy.”
This effort is part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health - PDF. The National Strategy provides a roadmap of actions the federal government will take to end hunger and reduce diet-related diseases by 2030 – all while reducing disparities. The National Strategy was released in conjunction with the first White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health in over 50 years, hosted by President Biden on September 28, 2022.
“American Indians and Alaska Natives are at a greater risk for food insecurity than white Americans, Black Americans, or Hispanic Americans,” said IHS Director Roselyn Tso. “Produce prescription programs have been shown to increase access to nutritious foods in communities at risk for food insecurity. I look forward to seeing positive results for our people and patients through this funding.”
Roughly one in four Native people experience food insecurity, compared to one in nine Americans overall, and one in 12 white or non‑Hispanic individuals. The higher rates of food insecurity among American Indians and Alaska Natives have been attributed to limited income, employment, and resources, such as lack of access to full‑service grocery stores or living in food deserts.
Eligible applicants include tribes, tribal organizations and urban Indian health care organizations. Approximately 4 to 7 awards will be issued under this program announcement for a performance period of five years. Applications are due by June 8, 2023.
All eligible applicants for this new funding opportunity must identify a target population; develop an infrastructure that fosters collaboration with a health care facility and local markets, organizations, and services that provide fresh fruits, vegetables and traditional foods; implement a nutrition education program; and develop an evaluation plan that measures food insecurity, health outcomes, and utilization of services over time.
The IHS encourages applicants to develop and submit a work plan that emphasizes cross-system collaboration, the inclusion of family and social support systems, community resources, and culturally appropriate approaches.
The Indian Health Service provides a comprehensive health service delivery system for approximately 2.7 million American Indians and Alaska Natives who belong to 574 federally recognized tribes in 37 states.