Innovative Solution to Food Deserts on Navajo Nation

Posted on Nov 8, 2019

Fresh produce at a trading post on Navajo Nation
At the Teec Nos Pos Trading Post, the first store that joined PIH’s nutrition program on Navajo Nation, Lauren Weaver restocks fresh fruits and vegetables. Photo by Cecille Joan Avila / Partners In Health

On Navajo Nation, grocery stores are few and far between. Most people shop at gas stations and trading posts, where healthy foods are scarce. To widen access to fruits and vegetables—and improve overall health—Partners In Health (PIH) and its sister organization on Navajo Nation, Community Outreach and Patient Empowerment, launched an initiative to encourage shops to stock and sell produce and traditional Diné foods.

Through the Healthy Navajo Stores Initiative, PIH is supporting shop owners with the technical assistance they need to source and stock healthy foods, plus supplying them with tools, from refrigerators to marketing materials, to promote their new inventory. As of this year, PIH has partnered with 31 convenience stores and trading posts to help them provide healthier options, as well as cooking demos to build community and customer engagement.

The initiative goes hand-in-hand with the Fruits and Vegetables Prescription program, through which more than half of health facilities serving Navajo Nation have provided families vouchers to buy produce and healthy Diné items. Together, the programs are helping both small businesses and families, and closing the loop on PIH's work to revitalize the food system on Navajo Nation.

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