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Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation receives $5M federal food security grant

Evan Erickson

The Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation (YKHC) recently announced that it has received federal funding totaling $5 million over a five-year period from the National Institutes of Health. The funds will go toward improvements to health, food sovereignty, and food security as part of YKHC’s Neqkiuryaraq project, translating roughly as “The Art of Preparing Food”.

The project will be pursued in partnership with the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, Bethel Community Services Foundation, and the University of Alaska Fairbanks, alongside tribes, schools, and businesses in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta region.

In a press release, YKHC said that Alaska Natives in the region have an average life expectancy 10 years less than the U.S. average due to diseases tied to diet, including cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. The release also said that access to nutritious food in stores to supplement traditional Native food sources is limited, with retailers choosing to stock “unhealthy, shelf-stable food.”

The Neqkiuryaraq project aims to build a local food system integrating traditional knowledge, promoting healthy and culturally acceptable foods, and employing community members, according to the release.

The $5 million grant is being awarded through the NIH ComPASS, or Community Partnerships to Advance Science for Society, program. The federal program bills itself as supporting projects that study social determinants of health that contribute to health inequities.

Evan Erickson is a reporter at KYUK who has previously worked as a copy editor, audio engineer and freelance journalist.
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