At dawn on May 20 a fleet of trucks left Midwest Food Bank Arizona en route to the Navajo Nation. The trucks were loaded with canned food, bottled water and milk, diapers, paper products, and 960 boxes of produce from Stern Produce.
The combined effort between Midwest Food Bank Arizona and Helping Hands Navajo Nation is in response to COVID-19. The Navajo Nation has the highest per capita COVID-19 infection rate in the country, as of mid-May. More than 4,000 tribe members have tested positive and 140 have died as a result.
"Without Midwest Food Bank we'd be going up to the reservation with maybe a trailer or two," says Terry Murphy, founder of Helping Hands Navajo Nation. "But now, we're going up there with a fleet of trucks. What Midwest Food Bank has done for us and the Navajo people has really been inspiring to see."
The Navajo Nation is an American Indian Territory with about 170,000 tribe members that covers 27,000 square miles in northeast Arizona, northwest New Mexico and southeast Utah. It is estimated that 30-40 percent of the citizens do not have running water.
Midwest Food Bank was quick to respond to the Navajo Nation during this pandemic and knows the need in this territory. Pre-COVID-19, MFB Arizona was sending a semi-load of food a month.
"Many people on the reservation have no running water and no electricity and they have to drive for hours to get basic supplies," says Q Nielsen, Operations Director for MFB Arizona, who has personally visited the Navajo Nation. "Since the pandemic, it feels like more people have realized the greatness of the needs there. It's been awesome to see this community effort."
To assist the Navajo Nation and other food organizations served by Midwest Food Bank, click here.