As of April 2020, the Navajo Nation, located in the Southwestern United States, is considered the third hardest hit Coronavirus hotspot in the country. Crownpoint, New Mexico is located within McKinley County, which has one of the highest infection rates on the reservation, and is located in one of the most rural areas of New Mexico.
As the pandemic persists, the rate of infection on the reservation continues to rise. This largely has to do with issues of access. Some challenges include lack of access to running water, lack of access to electricity, and, especially, lack of access to food.
Many communities on the Navajo Nation exist in food deserts. Within a land base that is roughly the size of the state of West Virginia, there are only 13 grocery stores for 130,000 people to access. This clearly creates an issue for people to access food and other supplies.
Communities across the Navajo Nation are suffering as a normally self-sufficient people are unable to work due to lay-offs, furloughs, etc. Unexpected job loss also exacerbates issues with securing food, especially when a loss of income makes it difficult for low-income families to make a two hour (roundtrip) drive for groceries.
Having experienced the harsh realities of this food desert ourselves, we seek to help our community. In order to bridge the access gap, especially for elders and immunocompromised folks, we are seeking funding to create food boxes for Crownpoint community members.
In order to distribute such food boxes, we will be making and hosting contactless food drives for our community . We will purchase a variety of household staples.
We thank you for your support!
Tracie Benally and Roxanne Arthur
(Teacher and Social Worker)