The Yakama Nation Tribal Government has been tasked with the duty to provide and strengthen the Yakama people through upholding their sovereign Treaty rights, maintaining the Yakama culture, and representing future generations. The recent Covid-19 pandemic showed how fragile the economy can be and exposed gaps in the logistical infrastructure that supports it. The global economy is tied together in so many ways and access to food is a part of that. To meet demand, North American suppliers must often seek products from warmer climates in southern regions or even abroad in neighboring countries. This often leaves marginalized communities vulnerable to detrimental logistical impacts, and often results in "food deserts" in areas where produce is locally grown and harvested. The communities often most affected are largely comprised of rural, low income and minority populations. The most applicable example of this is comparing the cost and nutritional value of a meal at a fast food restaurant to the cost of a similarly-sized, pre-assembled salad in these communities. Our local food systems need improvement and strengthening.
With the USDA Local Food Purchase Assistance Program cooperative agreement, the Yakama Nation will be able to provide fresh, nutritious produce to approximately 2000 families in the five local communities of Wapato, Toppenish, White Swan, Harrah, and Mabton, all located within the boundaries of the Yakama Reservation, for 28 weeks over a 2-year project duration. This project will reduce the average produce transportation of 1500 total miles to less than 200 miles per week.