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AP finds inflation limiting access to Indigenous foods

Janie Pochel, an advisor to the Chi-Nations Youth Council, poises for a photo at the First Nations Garden in Chicago, Aug. 3, 2022. The garden was established in the spring of 2019 to host many traditional Indigenous crops including prairie sage, sweetgrass and strawberries. Access to Indigenous ingredients has become more difficult and expensive as inflation has surged. (Claire Savage / Report for America via AP)

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Report for America journalists Hannah Schoenbaum, Claire Savage and Trisha Ahmed differentiated AP’s inflation coverage from that of other news organizations, telling the real-world stories of an underrepresented population — urban Native Americans — to vividly illustrate the financial burden of rising food prices on minority communities.

North Carolina-based Schoenbaum developed the idea during a brainstorm session on inflation coverage. She then tapped Chicago-based Savage and Minneapolis’ Ahmed to partner on the project — both their cities have large Native populations.

Deeply sourced and richly told,the story takes readers into a community struggling to maintain access to traditional Indigenous foods that are often unavailable or too expensive for Native families in urban areas,already faced with financial,medical and cultural concerns. The recent inflation spike has priced such foods even further out of reach.

The all-formats piece incorporated photos and video shot by the reporting team,sharing the faces and voices of those involved in expanding Indigenous food resources in their communities. The result was a package with a distinctive perspective that raised awareness of the issues facing Native Americans,more than 70% of whom live in urban areas.

Several Illinois state lawmakers shared the story on social media, while area Native community leaders said they felt like a forgotten population.

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