UNM Rainforest Innovations

Bidii Baby Foods has been making big strides in developing their business and restoring indigenous food practices. The organic farm and agricultural cooperative has been awarded a $100,000 grant by the Rural Child Hunger Research Innovation Lab to support food access and programming for Navajo Nation families.

Sponsored by Save the Children, the Rural Child Hunger Research Innovation Lab supports organizations and community leaders working to make foods more accessible for rural communities through funding opportunities and assistance. Their mission is to catalyze community-driven innovation that ensures rural children have the nourishing food they need to thrive.

Visit the Bidii Baby Foods website to learn more: https://www.bidiibabyfoods.org/

Zachariah Ben, in addition to running Bidii Baby Foods, works as a Tribal Liaison for the New Mexico Tribal Entrepreneurship Enhancement Program (NMTEEP) administered by UNM Rainforest Innovations and funded by the US Economic Development Administration. The NMTEEP helps break down barriers and generate opportunity through entrepreneurship in historically underserved communities in New Mexico with a primary focus on coal-impacted tribal communities. Tribal liaisons are an essential part of the program, and their main mission is to connect with established and aspiring entrepreneurs within tribal communities across the state.

Learn more about the tribal liaisons and how to connect here: http://loborainforest.com/tribal-entrepreneurship/tribal-liaisons/

See also, “Tribal Liaison Zachariah Ben’s Bidii Baby Foods Awarded Heart of the Land Award for Outstanding Leadership in Farming and Ranching,” on the UNM Rainforest Innovations website here: https://innovations.unm.edu/tribal-liaison-zachariah-bens-bidii-baby-foods-awarded-heart-of-the-land-award-for-outstanding-leadership-in-farming-and-ranching/

Bidii Baby Foods upping local food supply

By Ivan Leonard

February 2, 2023

Bidii Baby Foods’ mission is to have a world where traditional Indigenous foods are accessible in early childhood and beyond.

The agricultural cooperative on the Navajo Nation recently gained national recognition from the Rural Child Hunger Research and Innovation Lab with a $100,000 grant. The money and support will be used to develop food access programming that will support Navajo Nation families.

“The innovation lab exists because, in rural communities, there aren’t (any) best practices or proven practices to address food insecurity,” said Esther Liew, Save the Children’s lead associate for Food Security Projects. “There might be some ways that work in urban communities, but, in rural communities, not so much. The grant provides support in terms of funding and assistance to community organizations in rural communities that are likely already doing the good work of addressing childhood insecurity.”

To increase supply of local and traditional foods in the Navajo Nation, Shiprock-based Bidii Baby Foods is providing land-based learning, farmer-in-residence mentorship, farm-to-school sales, coalition building and advocacy.

Save the Children’s Rural Child Hunger Research and Innovation Lab launched five new food access solutions, including Bidii Baby Foods, to help reduce child food insecurity in parts of rural America’s poorest areas.

“Perhaps they don’t have the support or the funding to turn innovative ideas into something that’s scalable, so that’s why the lab exists to provide that sort of funding and programmatic support for these community partners,” Liew said.

The five 2023 lab grantees were chosen after more than 100 organizations showed interest in the initiative.

This project comes during a time when 1 in 5 rural children are suffering from food insecurity and half of rural parents say they are struggling to afford to feed their families, according to a survey by Save The Children Action Network.

“Our short-term goal is to create space for these community organizations to design and test innovation ideas,” Liew said.

Save the Children has been supporting children and families in America since 1932, and has helped distribute nearly 45 million meals since the beginning of the pandemic.

“The Good News File” is a series of uplifting stories in partnership with KOAT-TV and KKOB Radio. The Journal will publish a “Good News” feature the first Friday of the month, KOAT-TV will present its feature each second Friday and KKOB each third Friday.

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