By Elizabeth Zach, staff writer Tribes

A new study shows that food shortages among Native American populations are much higher than the national average.

According to Feeding America’s study “Map the Meal Gap,” the trend is playing out not just on reservations but across the 26 counties in the U.S. with a Native American majority population.

While poverty has enabled them to apply for government assistance, an 1890 federal law prohibits them from leaving their reservations to fish, hunt or gather nutritious foods in their Native territories.

Thus, government rations of flour, sugar and lard have led them to poor eating habits. According to the study, these Native communities rely on such benefits considerably more than the average eligible American. The study also notes that the rate of diabetes among Native American and Alaska Native adults is 2.3 times higher than among white Americans. However, federal funding for the prevention and treatment of the disease among these groups has not changed since 1997.

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