Fri Aug 16th, 2019
Jeremy Wade Shockley
The Southern Ute Drum
Categories: Top Stories
The Southern Ute Indian Tribe’s Food Distribution program aims to reinforce nutrition and healthy food choices under the direction of the new program manager, Southern Ute tribal member Deanna Frost. Frost started her position on July 17, as the new Food Distribution Program manager under the Tribal Services Department.
“We’ve upgraded stuff — I order fresh produce weekly now,” Frost stated. “My goal is to order fresh produce every week, [rotating in] new items in each shipment. Starting in September, we will have fresh eggs for the first time ever.” Families can get one to four dozen eggs per month depending on household size. Gone are the days of powdered eggs and generic labels.
“My supervisor, Deidra White, wants this program to be more nutrition based,” Frost explained. “More friendly towards diabetes prevention amongst our Native people. We strive to give out healthy foods.”
Locally grown peaches, fresh corn, grapes, tomatoes, lemons, apples, oranges, russet potatoes, red potatoes, and grapefruit will all be available. Flash frozen strawberries are a recent addition to the canon of fruits, preserving all of their nutritional value.
Frost started as an apprentice for the Shining Mountain Health and Wellness program, where she created great connections with outside non-profits such as the CSU extension office in Durango, Colo. She focused on collaborations with the local non-profits that share her passion for food sovereignty.
Frost worked with Cooking Matters Colorado for almost two years, under the Train-the-Trainer program, which allows Cooking Matters Colorado to bring Cooking Matters programs to unserved or underserved communities. Her responsibilities included: planning, organizing and buying groceries for the Cooking Matters programs held in Ignacio.
Rural communities are often referred to as “Food Deserts,” explained Frost. “Ignacio is super lucky that we have more than once choice [for groceries].”
Deanna Frost’s goal as a new manager is to ensure that everyone has access to healthy food. “I have always been involved in food, nutrition, and providing healthy, accessible food for low income families. That is my goal and has been my goal for the past five years,” Frost emphasized.
USDA is delivering healthy food. Supplementing that with “Traditional Foods” which include bison, salmon, and cranberries. In September they will offer pulled pork, which is frozen, but fully cooked.
Eligibility is not limited to tribal members. The program accepts eligible applicants who are living within the exterior boundaries of the Southern Ute Reservation. Families must provide social security cards and proof of income; SSI, Disability and Child Support all get factored into eligibility. Although federally funded, the program is separate from SNAP, aiming to provide better accessibility to food within the community of Ignacio.
Families can come in once a month, which Frost is hoping to change to twice a month. “My goal is to transition to twice a month starting in November,” she explained. “Extend the availability of food, and help families ration their monthly food supplies.”
“My future plan is upgrading our whole computer system. How we distribute food with USDA,” explained Frost. Adding UPC labels to work with hand scanners, plus more fresh produce sourced strictly from USA growers.
“It’s not a negative thing, I want this to be positive,” Frost reiterated. We want to make it more welcoming for people to come in; encourage more tribal members to use the program, she emphasized.
The Food Distribution center is located in downtown Ignacio, at 740 Goddard Ave.