Senator Lankford Urges Support for Indian Reservation Food Delivery Program to Ensure Access for Those Who Need it Most
CLICK HERE to watch Lankford’s speech on the Senate floor.
WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today applauded passage of his bipartisan amendment to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) title of H.R. 3055, an appropriations package that also includes the Transportation-Housing, Commerce, Justice, Science and Interior Appropriations bills. The amendment, also spearheaded by Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), would require USDA to conduct a study on access challenges for its Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR), to better capture data on underserved populations, specifically focusing on the homebound and the elderly, who may be unable to physically go to a distribution location for food. Lankford is a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Lankford and Cortez Masto both serve on the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.
Mr. President, this is an amendment that has just been called up that we’re going to vote for here in a few moments, and I would encourage my colleagues to be able to pass. Senator Cortez Masto and I, we’ve worked together on this. She’s been the lead on this whole issue but proud to be able to cosponsor with her. This is a basic study on how we can make sure the food benefits that USDA is choosing to provide and that we’re providing as a federal taxpayer together towards Indian reservations to make sure the food is actually getting to people that need it the most.
At this point the USDA program is set up to ensure that people have to come to a central distribution area to get access to food. Many elderly and disabled cannot just go to a central distribution area to be able to get access to food. If we’re going to have a food program like this, let’s make sure we’re actually getting food to where people need it the most. There are other programs that are in the federal government right now like Meals on Wheels and other programs that are designated where we can partner with groups to make sure food gets there. But there are some of the programs like this program, the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations, that program may not be getting to where food is needed the most for the most number of people.
Other programs I think will need a study like this as well. We have other child nutrition programs, for instance, that happen in the summertime that children just like this program set up on Indian reservations have to come to a central location to be able to get access to food. And many children don’t have the ability to get transportation to be able to get food—and those individuals and families that need the most help, we’re making yet another hurdle to get help. This is a study, and I think it’s the first step to make sure what we do is done well and is done efficiently and that the intended outcome to be able to help people is actually occurring. So I thank Senator Cortez Masto, her leadership for this, and being able to step up, proud to be able to cosponsor with us and look forward to our colleagues voting for this, getting the results of the study, and actually to make sure in the days ahead that food assistance is getting to the place where people need it the most.