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American Indian Healthy Eating

Healthy Families, Healthy Activities

Facilitating Healthy Families within your Tribal Community

Fun, family-oriented approaches to improving access to healthy, affordable foods and physical activity emerged throughout the modified Talking Circles, key informant interviews, and informal and formal meetings with Tribal Councils.  We highlight how tribes can help facilitate healthy families from policies, programs, and partnerships.

Move with Let’s Move!

The First Lady’s Let’s Move! Campaign encourages families, churches, and cities to help the nation raise a healthier generation of children.  Let’s Move Cities and Towns suggests several approaches tribes can implement within their tribal communities.  Let’s Move Faith and Communities shares possible grassroots efforts tribal leaders can partner with faith and community leaders on.  And a recent addition to the campaign, Let’s Move in Indian Country announced a call to action in Indian Country and developed a toolkit and resource guide focused on the four main goals listed below.  Contact to submit any comments or questions.  Explore Let’s Move resources and partners to identify feasible approaches your tribe can commit to!

(1)   Creating a Healthy Start on Life

(2)   Developing Healthy Schools

(3)   Increasing Physical Activity

(4)   Fostering Healthy, Comprehensive Food System Policies

Empower Parents

A key theme from the modified Talking Circles and key informant interviews is the power of parents to facilitate healthy families, healthy homes!  Help your parents understand their role and provide specific tips for how to help feed their families on a budget and promote healthy eating and active living in their households!  Studies show getting families involved helps reduce the incidence of obesity and helps improve the chance of the weight management program.  Learn more about the State of Family Nutrition and Physical Activity in a report by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetics Association).

Here’s some food for thought to get started on crafting healthy posters, messages, or texts to communicate healthful, family-oriented activities:

Promote Food and Nutrition Federal Assistance Programs for Children and Families

Tribes have an important role in increasing awareness of federal food assistance programs for eligible children and families.  Use US Department of Agriculture free resources to promote the program in your tribal building and partner with local agencies to help reduce application process burdens and increase culturally competent resources and case workers.  Key federal food assistances programs include:

In North Carolina, contact Veronica Wilson ( to learn about SNAP-Education funds and resources that can be utilized to support or inspire your educational endeavors!  Check out North Carolina SNAP resources.

Take advantage of new US Dietary Guidelines educational and online resources to promote healthy living within your tribal community.  Partner with your local extension offices to offer workshops on how to access and use MyPlate new resources and online tools.  Check out a recent story on the association between SNAP participation and healthier children.

School-Home Connections

Parents also want to understand their role in improving access to healthy foods and physical activity at schools.  Work with your local school district(s) to obtain copies of their local school wellness policies, which have been developed by schools participating in the National School Lunch Program to address school-level strategies to promote health and wellness in schools.   Help parents understand these policies and their potential to help ensure they are implemented, strengthened, and evaluated!  Parents can also benefit from understanding federal food assistance programs in school settings, such as the National School Lunch Program.  Tips for healthy bagged lunches and healthy snacks are also appreciated!

Healthy Cooking Activities

Parents and community members are interested in cooking demonstrations and sampling events hosted by the tribe or promoted by the tribe within the tribal community.  Cities like Riverbank, CA have been integrating family-oriented cooking lessons and demonstrations into various programs that are a part of their Get Fit Riverbank!

Explore your tribes’ current kitchen and chef capacity.  Consider partnerships with local churches, hospitals, and community venues to build a community kitchen offering regular workshops to families, youth, and elders on healthy cooking on a budget!  From Jamie Oliver’s “Food Revolution” to more local efforts in Warren County directed by Dr. Carla Norwood at Duke University (, several communities are exploring how community kitchens can offer healthy foods to community members and instill healthy cooking skills in children, families, and elders.  Check out the first commercial kitchen to open in North Carolina through a partnership with local kitchens, chefs, farmers and a business developer.

Teaching children to cook instills healthy habits, along with confidence and life-long skills.  Consider hosting recipe contests or facilitating the compilation of a cookbook or hosting a soup swap.  A Soup Swap is a community event in which members of the community swap leftover soup and recipes, encouraging the exchange of healthy, traditional soups and stews.

Google’s Recipe View and allow users to search for recipes by ingredient or by desired calorie counts.  The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently created a cookbook with the aim for encouraging healthy family meals.  The US Department of Agriculture is also compiling Recipes for Healthy Kids through a recipe challenge:  Contact local culinary institutes or aspiring chefs!  Encourage your elders to pass down healthy, Native traditions and compete for the healthiest and tastiest ways to integrate healthy foods and preparation techniques in traditional foods!

Explore rich resources on cooking demonstrations, healthy recipes, tips for healthy families, and child-friendly cooking activities:

Active Living

The American Indian Healthy Eating Project focused on strategies to promote healthy eating but tribes have equally as important potential to improve access to active living.  Many tribes have started to build trails or are considering regularly-supported tribal walking clubs.  Consider active living strategies while devising your plans for Healthy, Native North Carolinians and explore how you can:



Pictured above is the Sappony facilitated Native Style Instant Recess during the Unity Conference 2012 General Session 

WS 4 (1)WS 6 (2)WS 6 (1)WS 4 (2)WS 2 (2)WS 2 (1)

Pictured above is Waccamaw Siouan Tribal members, Leslie Jones, Shirley Freeman, Megan Patrick and Linda Patrick taking part in the “Lets Get Moving” activities during General Assembly at the 2014 NC Indian Unity Conference. YOU GO LADIES!


Pictured above is the Haliwa-Saponi Indian Tribe walking trail, fund in part by a grant from Blue Cross/Blue Shield 


Pictured above is a billboard promoting the Sappony 2nd annual Trail and Fun Run