RONAN — Last week at the Kicking Horse cafeteria building, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Food Sovereignty Program distributed 400 holiday meal kits to tribal members who were, in part, affected by problems created by COVID-19.

The CSKT Food Sovereignty Program, which is separate from the Peoples Food Sovereignty Program, aims to strengthen and secure local food systems.

As tribal members experience isolation and a lack of assistance, Tuesday provided an opportunity for tribal members to interact safely with their own community members while also receiving a nutritious box of food.

The majority of the raw and organic produce was provided by Western Montana Growers Cooperative, which also believes in making fresh and nutritious local food available to the communities. 

With the amount of produce delivered, Trina Fyant, consultant of the CSKT Food Sovereignty Program and owner of Qene’s Catering, observed that they did not have the storage capacity at the time, and the produce needed to be distributed quickly before it expired. Produce included eggs, cheese, potatoes, apples, carrots, winter squash, lettuce, and onions. 

In one day, the food sovereignty team devised a strategy for spreading the word, packaging, and distributing the 400 boxes that evening. A line of cars arrived at the Kicking Horse Job Corps center as tribal members and family members waited for a box and a $25 Safeway, Pablo Family Foods, or Harvest Foods gift card.

Jordan Thompson, Amerra Webster-Yaqui, Joel Clairmont, Casey Ryan, Josh Brown, and Virgil Dupuis make up the CSKT Food Sovereignty team.

“Systematically, all people in Montana have a food security problem,” Fyant said. “The food supply chain, in my opinion, is a real threat to our entire communities.” 

The CSKT Food Sovereignty team will continue to work hard to make sure the communities receive nutritious food during these challenging times due to COVID.

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