Shakopee tribe, Walmart Foundation, and Kullman family collaborate to fund major Johns Hopkins pilot project in Native American communities

Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health will deliver and evaluate innovative nutrition, food access, and physical fitness program

Baltimore, Maryland – The Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health (CAIH) announced today a funding collaboration to support its Healthy Futures initiative, a comprehensive program designed to significantly improve health and nutrition in tribal communities.

The collaboration includes a $250,000 grant from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) through its Seeds of Native Health philanthropic campaign to improve Native American nutrition; a $150,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation; and support from the Michael and Ellen Kullman family.

Kids in garden

“We are grateful to the SMSC, the Walmart Foundation, and the Kullmans for their critical investment in building tribal communities’ capacity to improve health and well-being through improved nutrition, fitness, and education,” said Allison Barlow, PhD, MPH, director of the Johns Hopkins CAIH.

The Healthy Futures pilot project will combine three CAIH-designed programs (NativeVision, Feast for the Future, and Together on Diabetes), which individually promote nutrition, food access, and physical activity in Native communities, into a comprehensive effort. Healthy Futures will be implemented in two Southwestern tribal communities over a three-year period; rigorously evaluated; and, if proven to be successful, packaged for replication by other tribes across Indian Country.

“We hope that our funding partnership–combining tribal, corporate, and private family philanthropy–will inspire other funders to look at the critical needs and great grantmaking opportunities that exist in Indian Country,” said SMSC Chairman Charles R. Vig. “The Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health has an incredible track record of effective, innovative work within tribal communities, and its Healthy Futures program is the perfect project for us to collaborate on.”

The program components include:

  1. School-based nutrition and healthy lifestyles education through activity-based, experiential curriculum taught by local teachers and Native health coaches.
  2. Family-based nutrition, meal planning, gardening, and physical activity education and promotion conducted through home visits by local Native family health coaches.
  3. Community-based events and activities–including gardening and harvesting education, fitness camps, and Elders’ teachings–that comprise a cultural assets-based approach to promoting healthy nutrition, fitness, and positive lifestyles.
  4. Rigorous evaluation to determine a solid evidence base for expanding the model to tribal communities across the country.

“Access to healthy, nutritious food plays an essential role in helping children reach their full potential,” said Karrie Denniston, director of Hunger and Nutrition for Walmart Giving. “We are pleased to continue our support of Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health to ensure American Indian children and teens have greater access to healthy food and learn how to grow and enjoy nourishing, culturally relevant foods.”