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Tohono O'odham nonprofit increases food security on tribal lands

Posted at 5:29 PM, Feb 14, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-14 19:29:10-05

TOHONO O'ODHAM NATION (KGUN) — This month's Giving Project nonprofit is the Native American Advancement Foundation (NAAF).

Founded by members of the Tohono O'odham Nation, NAAF's goal is to strengthen the native community through a variety of programs on tribal lands.

"You can see how rural we are to anything," Senior Director of Programs Selina Jesus says of NAAF's location.

Jesus knows the important role NAAF plays for to those living on the western edge of the Tohono O'odham Nation.

She helped start the foundation and oversees yearly updates to their programs.

"It's based on different categories like housing, education, like food security," Jesus tells me.

NAAF has several programs dealing with food security , including a partnership with the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona.

And within the last few years, NAAF has opened its own small store to serve those living nearby.

"We don't see it as a grocery store, we see it as a program," says Jesus. "It's able to provide food for community members, nation members, people that come through."

Next to the store, NAAF also has a community garden.

Native American Advancement Foundation community garden
The community garden run by the Native American Advancement Foundation helps tribal members address concerns of food security in a remote rural area of the Tohono O'odham Nation.

Florine Ortega has benefited from NAAF's programs, and now works for the foundation as an after school program coordinator.

"A lot of the people really benefit from the fresh vegetables and then the eggs from the chickens out there," says Ortega. "That's really helpful too."

She sees the major impact NAAF continues to have on a community that can at times feel isolated, sitting on the edge of the O'odham Nation.

"With the organization being here and helping a lot of us on this side that didn't know where else to go, it's benefited a lot of people."

We invite you to make a donation to the Native American Advancement Foundation by visiting their website and clicking the 'Give Today' button in the upper righthand corner of the page.

As a reminder, your donation will qualify for Arizona's charitable tax credit.

Our partners in the Giving Project, the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona, will again match the first $500 in donations.

Pat Parris is an anchor and reporter for KGUN 9. He is a graduate of Sabino High School where he was the 1982 high school state track champion in the 800 meters. While in high school and college, he worked part-time in the KGUN 9 newsroom. Share your story ideas and important issues with Pat by emailing or by connecting on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


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