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Northern Arapaho food program prevents student hunger during summer months

Henry Kellner

The Northern Arapaho Summer Food program feeds roughly 300 kids per week day from multiple different sites on the Wind River Reservation. To help bring food to areas in need, the food program has set up three mobile sites in the Arapaho citizen dense areas in the Beaver Creek, Airport and Mill Creek housing areas. Food is also distributed at both the head start preschools in Arapaho and Ethete.

Sherry Blackburn helped start the Summer Food Program and now she heads a program that distributes food to elders in the community. She said many people would go hungry throughout the summer without mobile food distribution.

“People have real high unemployment, it just would be impossible for them to get gas to go pick their children up from the meal site. And so these mobile units really help for the housing areas and the others. While they were still able to provide meals regardless,” she said.

The summer food program employs 11 people funded by the Northern Arapaho tribe and the Wyoming Department of Education.

Blackburn said the pandemic, inflation and high gas prices has made distributing food even more difficult.

“It's extremely difficult, especially right now, with gas almost $5 a gallon. But I think it's more difficult today than it was last year, just because of inflation and the rising fuel costs,” she said.

Taylar Dawn Stagner is a central Wyoming rural and tribal reporter for Wyoming Public Radio. She has degrees in American Studies, a discipline that interrogates the history and culture of America. She was a Native American Journalist Association Fellow in 2019, and won an Edward R. Murrow Award for her Modern West podcast episode about drag queens in rural spaces in 2021. Stagner is Arapaho and Shoshone.
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