Santee Sioux People Lack Access to Healthy Foods, According to Report

Members of the Santee Sioux community, in Northeast Nebraska, are working to improve health and economic outlooks.

“By asserting a desire to rebuild a sovereign food system, the Santee Sioux community can create a healthier community, revitalize traditional foods, create a self-sufficient food system, and develop a more resilient Nation.” -Wyatt Fraas, Center for Rural Affairs

The Santee Sioux people largely lack access to healthy foods that could help them combat health challenges, according to a report recently released by the Center for Rural Affairs and the Santee Sioux community.

“Digging In: Supporting a Healthy, Sustainable Food Future in Santee Sioux Nation,” examines the state of the food system on the Santee Sioux Reservation in northeast Nebraska.

The report identifies strategies toward realizing a food system that meets the needs of its people and includes details on the study area; data relating to health, economics, culture and the food system; and input from community members.

“The Santee Sioux community is working hard to improve health and economic outlooks,” said Wyatt Fraas, Farm and Community program assistant director at the Center for Rural Affairs. “By asserting a desire to rebuild a sovereign food system, they can create a healthier community, revitalize traditional foods, create a self-sufficient food system and develop a more resilient Nation.”

Key findings of the report include:


  • In Santee, 43.4 percent of all families and 50.9 percent of all people live below the poverty line.
  • More than 69 percent of respondents travel on average 106 miles roundtrip to do the majority of their grocery shopping.
  • More than 55 percent of participants expressed a desire for greater local access to fresh produce, with 88 percent of respondents indicating better food would improve health for their families.

The community has worked with Nebraska Indian Community College (NICC) and the Center for Rural Affairs since 2011 through the Santee Community Food Project, with a goal of bringing fresh foods and healthy eating back to Santee.

For more information and to view “Digging In: Supporting a Healthy, Sustainable Food Future in Santee Sioux Nation,” visit: http://www.cfra.org/DiggingInSantee

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