COPE’s Healthy Navajo Stores Initiative (HNSI) program collaborates closely with 34 stores located in New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah to increase the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables, provide technical trainings and increase community engagement around fresh food. From October 2020 – June 2021, COPE collaborated with with our long-standing partner The Food Trust to distribute funds from Uniliver/Knorr to small stores on Navajo Nation.
Over the past year, store-owners have been impacted deeply by COVID-19. They have had to spend their own funds to adapt to new guidelines around social distancing and masking, as well as interrupted distribution of goods and Navajo Nation restrictions that included curfews and weekend lockdowns.
In working with the stores, we understood that mini-grants would go a long way toward addressing some of the challenges that the stores faced in making infrastructure upgrades and covering COVID-19 related costs.
Stores were encouraged to fill out an application. Of the applications received, we were able to grant:
Keams Canyon Market, Keams Canyon AZ
Mora's Grocery, Ganado AZ
Kaibeto Market, Kaibeto, AZ
Totsoh Trading Post, Lukachukai, AZ
Mickey's Save Way Market, Cuba NM
Rocky Ridge Gas & Market in Kykotsmovi Village, AZ.
Keams Canyon Market in Keams Canyon, AZ (Right) were able to upgrade their point-of-sale system and to repair a six-door refrigeration unit that was having issues maintaining the set temperature required to keep frozen foods safe and fresh.
Lisa Harris, owner of Kaibeto Market used the funds to provide more sick leave for her employees.
(Left) Martin Herrera from Mickeys Save-Way was able to use the funds to upgrade the lighting in his freezer to LED and fix the seals around the doors.
Totsoh Trading Post was looking to purchase more personal protection for their employees and Rocky Ridge Gas & Market reported that funds were used for payroll for the employees.
JoAnn Mora, owner of Mora’s Grocery, put the funds toward payroll and purchasing PPE. She said that she hopes for more opportunities like this, which allows her to continue serving her community.
COPE was glad to be able to offer stores with the opportunity to apply for additional funds. COPE continues to assist stores with donated items such as masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, and hand sanitizer stands. We also developed and shared educational materials with stores in the form of posters and a COVID-19 safety training video accessible via YouTube for store employees.