SNAP-Ed Logo

SNAP-Ed Program
(Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program- Education)

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Who We Are - Our Team

Claire Chase
Claire ChaseSNAP-Ed Coordinator
Claire has been with the program since 2016 and is a mother of 5 and resides in the Bena community. Mrs. Chase graduated from Bemidji State with a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communication and is an avid jogger. In her spare time she enjoys trying new recipes with her kids or being out in the woods with her family.
Marcus Roy
Marcus RoySNAP-Ed Educator
Marcus joined the program in 2018 and is the father of 6. He is a Leech Lake Band member born in Minneapolis and currently lives in the Cass Lake area. When not at work he loves spending time with his wife and kids, fishing, trying new things, reading, and learning Ojibwe culture.
Sherri Seelye
Sherri SeelyeSNAP-Ed Educator
Sherri has been with the SNAP-Ed program for 2 yrs, worked Early Childhood Education for 10 yrs, is a mother of 2 and a Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe member who resides in the Cass Lake community. Enjoys reading, learning the Ojibwe language & ASL, traveling and summer time activities such as berry picking with her family, taking walks, teaching the kids about gardening, and learning about new plants.


Our Mission & Goals

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) is the educational component of the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), a program that offers nutrition assistance to eligible, low-income individuals and families.

Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe SNAP-Ed Program is currently focusing on helping participants learn about healthy food & physical activity. Because we are a tribal SNAP-Ed grantee, we are able to look at these ideas with a specific focus on traditional indigenous teachings. By tapping into foods through local farmers/growers and by traditional means (hunting, fishing, gathering), SNAP-Ed helps emphasize and excite our partners with different ways to look at and appreciate foods. We also help educate on how to stretch your family’s dollar further and connect our families with our foods through teachings and increasing food sovereignty.

We are grounded in community collaborations and partnerships with partners currently and previously within the Leech Lake Early Childhood Program, Leech Lake Child Care Services, Leech Lake Diabetes Prevention Program, Leech Lake Health Division, Tribal SHIP, Cass Lake-Bena School District, Leech Lake Tribal College, Leech Lake Area Boys & Girls Club, Food Distribution Program, University of Minnesota Extension, Institute of Agricultural Trade and Policy, Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Sprout and multiple home-based childcare facilities: Adrienne’s Daycare and Rez Care Over the Rainbow. We often seek partnership from local community members, families and “experts” as we call them to provide insight and guidance with programming development.

We focus on two larger projects

Healthy Families

This project is to help participants in the community improve their healthy eating and active living behaviors through participation in direct education courses. With this initiative we look at bringing in locally sourced fresh fruits and vegetables to the classrooms and to the organizations, while always tying in a physical activity component. These classes are generally hands-on and allow our participants to experience and build skills at the same time as absorbing teachings. We hope at the end of courses that our participants increase their fruits and vegetable consumption, learn basic food handling safety, tips on cooking and shopping and ways to increase physical activity- to name a few!

Gardening & Community Food Sovereignty

This project focuses on developing partnerships across local, state, and regional work to collaborate and network in order to maximize resources and the capacity of which our community can support local access to affordable fresh fruits and vegetables. Participants will also engage in classes that teach about traditional Native American foods, the classes focus on how to harvest, prepare, and preservation of indigenous foods. This will also be tied to learning about different food sovereignty methods and how to handle different plants as well as companion growing and seed saving. SNAP-Ed is also looking to establish a mobile free farmers market during the harvesting times of the summer with produce from community gardens. There are currently community gardens in the following communities: Cass Lake (2x), Onigum, Bena, and Ball Club.

SNAP-Ed food from the garden

SNAP-Ed is based in evaluations and data to show effectiveness. We use a pre and post-test series with a select group of our participants across our initiatives and projects, as well as help support and engage in community assessments.

Partnerships & Initiatives

  • Leech Lake Early Childhood Program (EHS, AOB, 7 Outer Centers)
  • Curiosity Center (Cass Lake Elementary School)
  • Home-based Childcare Settings

Farm to Early Care: This is an initiative that differs from the traditional Farm to ECE allowing it to focus on seasonality and traditional foods and teachings. SNAP-Ed helped create this curricula model with a team of Indigenous Community Food experts to encompass all 12 months. Leech Lake Early Childhood has adopted this curricula into the classrooms and continually worked on incorporating items into their menus. We have also worked with their Family & Communities department to host exciting events such as the Nanda-gikendan that connects families with community knowledge holders. This curricula is paired with all our 0-5 aged groups and goes beyond some of our other curriculums that do not have a cultural tie.

Megwayaak: Meaning in the woods, the Megwayaak initiative is a system of trails and activity sites that encourage our teachers to take the youth out into the natural settings. Curricula has been created to support these activities and to compliment the Farm to Early Care initiative. This is to provide access to undeveloped areas and help raise a generation of land stewards.

Gardening/Greenhouse: While SNAP-Ed incorporates gardening in all age groups, we really are focused here in the 0-5 age range. This is a time when we can start good habits and interest early. We have hosted 33 raised beds at the Early Childhood Center alone and the participants help seed all the plants in the greenhouse during the very early spring months. All plants that you see in the community gardens start with our youth at the Early Childhood Program.

  • Boys & Girls Club
  • Cass Lake-Bena School District

During the first part of the year our program really focuses on cooking and food handling in the classrooms at both the Boys & Girls Club as well as the Elementary School. We are typically working with between the ages of 8-11 and are looking at ways to reach youth outside that age range. We have partnered with the Boys & Girls Club T.R.A.I.L.S grant that helps in the prevention of diabetes both nutrition wise and physical fitness wise. With our 3rd/4th grade classes at the Cass Lake-Bena Elementary school we have focused on a White Earth based curricula called 13 moons which discusses seeds savings and traditional foods and their history.

With both programs we lead our curriculum into where our food comes from and how they grow. We have run the Cass Lake Community garden near the park with the help of the elementary school’s summer school programming three years in a row and are looking at other ways that we can connect for the future! Discussions around Farm to School programs initiated and have been put on pause for the time being.

We also run 16 raised/tiered beds with the Leech Lake Boys & Girls Club. They have done amazing things with their gardens such as incorporating lessons and maintenance into their Power Hour program and also incorporating any produce they harvest into their lunch/snack menus! It is exciting to see that there is an interest that sparks with some of the kids during the gardening project that we don’t see during the normal school year.

  • LLTC
  • Heritage Buildings

We have been exploring and trying many different partnerships to reach the Adult and Elderly age group. We have found success in our partnership with the Leech Lake Tribal College and their Wellness Program as well as their Language Tables. This helps both our programs build capacity and complement each other in programming and goals.

We have also been asked to partner with the Heritage Buildings specifically for gardening and ideally would like to connect our Boys & Girls Club youth with the elders at this building. This would create revitalization and a natural transfer of knowledge from our elders to our youth. This is still an ongoing project!

We have also received and sought support from the Food Distribution program. We have collaborated on some assessments and interest surveys are always looking to continue this partnership. We tend to lean on their experts there for additional knowledge that we can utilize in the classroom.

SNAP-Ed greenhouse