Food Assistance Programs:

Nutritional Adequacy of Primary Food Programs on Four Indian Reservations

RCED-89-177: Published: Sep 29, 1989. Publicly Released: Oct 11, 1989.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed food assistance programs serving American Indians, focusing on: (1) which programs provided assistance to Indians living on reservations; (2) whether the food packages distributed under the programs were adequate to meet Indians' nutritional needs; and (3) whether Indians had any special nutritional needs that the programs were not addressing.

GAO found that: (1) the Food Stamp Program and the Food Distribution on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) are the two largest programs serving Indians living on reservations; (2) FDPIR provides commodity food to eligible low-income households; (3) in calendar year 1988, combined participation in FDPIR and the Food Stamp Program ranged from 38 to 90 percent on the four reservations GAO reviewed; (4) nonfederal food assistance efforts on reservations are small compared with federal food assistance programs; (5) FDPIR was intended to provide eligible households with a supplemental food source, and opinions varied on the adequacy of the size of the provided food packages; (6) federal and tribal officials cited various diet-related health conditions prevalent on reservations, but the Food Stamp Program and FDPIR were not designed to address special dietary needs of Indian recipients; and (7) the Food and Nutrition Service and the Indian Health Service could do more to educate reservation Indians regarding their special dietary needs.