A father preparing baby food.

The BEN Initiative

Staff Admin

Above Image Courtesy of the BEN Initiative

The BEN Initiative (501c3) was created by the Founders of Bidii Baby Foods as a way to achieve the joint mission of increasing access to traditional indigenous foods during early childhood. In order to achieve this mission and improve maternal and child health outcomes on the Navajo Nation, the Ben Initiative builds capacity of local farmers, provides nutrition education and land-based learning to community, and ensures connection during preconception and prenatal care to prepare for birth, breastfeeding and indigenous safe sleep.

The Ben family standing in their cornfield.

Image courtesy of the BEN Initiative

Approximately 25% of families on the Navajo Nation do not have access to electricity, and therefore do not have a way to store perishables.The average distance driven to access fresh foods is about 50 miles. Therefore, families need food items that are shelf stable.

Sun rising over a cornfield.

Image courtesy of the BEN Initiative

Additionally, in the Shiprock community, there are 12,000 acres of land designated for farming and assigned to families who have applied to use the land, but only 10% of that land is actually being used. There is a need for young farmers to have access to the land to farm as a livelihood.

This is also critical for our water rights as Navajo people–if we don’t use the water and land we are allotted, we are at risk of losing those rights to the federal government or surrounding, downstream cities who are trying to secure those water rights.

We aim to not only establish a successful indigenous baby food brand (the first of its kind in a tribal nation) but also collaborate with other indigenous farmers to build out an agricultural cooperative that provides locally grown, traditional Navajo produce and value-added products direct to consumer as well as school systems, (Early) Head Start facilities, Women, Infant, and Children (WIC) food assistance, and other programs serving young children.

To learn more about us, check out the links below.

Our website: bidiibabyfoods.org

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