Strengthening Native American Communities & Economies
What is the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR)?
One federal feeding program that aims to address issues of hunger and food insecurity in Native communities is the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR). FFDPIR is a federal feeding program under whereby local FDPIR programs in or near Native communities provide USDA foods monthly to income-eligible households living on American Indian reservations, approved areas near reservations, and in Oklahoma.
Currently, there are approximately 276 tribes receiving benefits under the FDPIR. Food for distribution is purchased by the USDA and shipped to local programs. Local authorized distributors then store and distribute the food, determine applicant eligibility, and provide some limited nutrition education to recipients.
FDPIR is one of the few federal feeding programs that reaches the most vulnerable populations in Native communities. In many cases, FDPIR serves households in isolated areas and those without access to vehicles to travel to grocery stores. In many ways, the FDPIR program has become a cultural institution in Native communities, defining an entire generation of consumers in Indian Country from coast to coast. Cultural markers are evident (for better or worse) in popular references to “commods,” “commodity cheese” and “commod bods,” demonstrating that this feeding program has penetrated the social life of Native communities.
Currently, FDPIR is operated by a group of dedicated program managers at the community level. A large majority of these managers are over the age of 50 and have served in their capacities as managers for over 10 years. These dedicated managers are largely responsible for education and advocacy efforts to include healthier and traditional food options into the food packages offered under FDPIR and promote dignity, education and community through this very important feeding program.