This past Friday, February 15th, we loaded up a 26-foot Penske truck with over 4,000 meals – along with a multitude of donated blankets, clothing, books and various other supplies – to deliver to Pine Ridge Reservation. The reservation is one of the poorest communities in the nation; the unemployment rate is consistently over 85% and food insecurity is rampant. We focus much of our emergency relief efforts on families in need on this reservation.
We were joined by 8 members from Creative Artists Agency (CAA), who came from Los Angeles to donate their time and learn about life on the reservation. We met the CAA group Friday night at a pow wow in the American Horse School gym. Men, women, and children of all ages from around the reservation gathered to dance, sing and socialize. Those who were there to compete as dancers dressed in elaborate costumes embellished with vibrant beads, feathers, bone, porcupine quills, and deer hair.
On Saturday morning, Floyd and Natalie Hand welcomed us into their home for a group breakfast. Floyd, a respected elder in the community and a Lakota spiritual leader, and Natalie, a Conscious Alliance board member, manage the Conscious Alliance partner organization Looks for Buffalo Foundation, and regularly host us at their home. In 2005 we constructed an emergency food bank on their property. This facility gives us the capacity to operate an Emergency Food Relief effort that is designed to provide assistance to hundreds of families during times of crisis and at the end of the month, when many families have exceeded their budgets and cannot afford to purchase food.
As done traditionally before every meal, Natalie collected a sampling of the prepared food in a small dish for Floyd to say a prayer over. The food is an offering to the spirits of relatives who have previously passed on before us. With full bellies, our team along with the group from CAA rolled up our sleeves and began unloading the truck. We sorted, organized, and shelved over 4000 lbs. of donated food along with donated clothing, blankets, shoes, books, and a variety of other much-needed supplies.
Due to the generosity of music fans who donate to our ‘Art That Feeds’ Food Drives, we were once again able to fully stock our emergency food pantry and feed hundreds of families in need on the reservation. We are incredibly grateful to all our supporters who help us continue our hunger relief efforts, and to the CAA team for helping us with our delivery!
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