New LFPA Project Partners Mission West with CSKT to Increase Food Sovereignty on the Flathead Reservation
Mission West is launching a new Local Food Procurement Assistance (LFPA) grant project aimed at building food sovereignty and empowering underserved producers within the Flathead Reservation. The LFPA Project reflects a collaborative partnership between the CSKT Food Sovereignty Team, SKC Extension Program, CSKT Office of Economic Development, Arlee CDC, and Mission West to meet the food needs of their communities by expanding the Mission West’s food box program, SKC Extension Victory Garden Program, and assisting tribal beef producers in market development and procurement of ground beef products.
Mission West started the food box program in 2020 through the Local Food for Local Families Initiative in partnership with the Western Montana Growers’ Coop, Hopa Mountain and other initiative partners. The program was created in response to the food chain disruption that stemmed from the Covid-19 pandemic. Since the program’s inception, Mission Mountain Food Enterprise Center (MMFEC) has packed approximately 200 boxes a month with a variety of locally grown produce and locally produced cheese and eggs. Local Food for Local Families Food Boxes were available at 9 different local distribution sites and were reported to have had a positive impact on the community and its agricultural producers.
The new LFPA project expands Mission West’s food box program to a partnership with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes to increase the consumption and access to fresh, locally produced food within underserved reservation communities through a targeted local procurement and distribution process. Between May of this year and January 2024, MMFEC is scheduled to pack 3,600 food boxes, all of which will include locally produced tribal beef in addition to other locally produced fruits, vegetables, and other available food stuffs. The boxes will reach eight districts within the reservation, each with three convenient drop-off points.
The LFPA Project also supports tribal beef producers through market development initiatives that will assist producers in expanding their reach and finding new opportunities for their ground beef products. Additionally, the LFPA Project will provide assistance to the SKC Extension Victory Garden Program. The program will be expanded to include eight garden sites, enabling more individuals and families to cultivate their own fresh produce.