Food insecurity is being without access to affordable, healthy food. Historic racism and long drives to a grocery store impede Native people on the Wind River Reservation from access to healthy food.
Growing Resilience, a community-based research project, studies how food insecurity is affecting the health of Native people on the Wind River Indian Reservation.
Growing Resilience aims to measure the diets of Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribal members to understand how home gardens can mitigate the effects of the low access to healthy foods on the reservation.
Melvin Arthur is Northern Arapaho and is a researcher with the project. Arthur said through the project, they planted 100 gardens that reached 400 families.
"I feel like on the reservation with the food dignity and Growing Resilience and everything else that's started, it feels like we started our own little movement for the Wind River," said Arthur.
The study has been put on hold because of COVID-19 related health restrictions, but will follow up with families once it's safe to continue research.
The project cites Native people dying 30 years earlier than white people on average in Wyoming.
University of Wyoming Associate Professor Christine Porter leads the research for the study. Porter said she is interested in social change that addresses the health disparities in communities of color.
"It's a national problem to some extent but not to this scale that we see in that data for Wind River," said Porter. "We have plenty of food in the United States and in the world to feed everyone; enough good food to eat. We just choose not to distribute it that way."
Porter said that the program Growing Resilience provides information on maintaining a garden and financial support for appropriate tools.