This article is part of a series describing the various food runs that the Adopt-A-Native-Elder Program conducts to eleven different locations around the Navajo Reservation. These locations are served in groups of two or three sites per trip. The articles will hopefully be of general interest but also serve as an orientation for prospective food run volunteers and for those who have signed up for a particular food run.
The Dilkon food run is part of a set of three, the others being Leupp and Birdsprings. This food run set begins the three week period of food runs that constitute the bulk of our visits to the reservation. In the spring it occurs in late May and in the fall, late September.
Food runs to Dilkon began in the late 1990's when Cyndy Sheldon, sponsor of an Elder at Many Farms, urged Linda to add this location along with Leupp. Cindy lived in Winslow and saw the great need to serve elderly Navajos in the southern part of the reservation. At first these were small scale runs carried out by a just a few dedicated volunteers. Initially the Elders at these locations received food certificates rather than food boxes making these runs much simpler to carry out from a logistical standpoint. But soon Dilkon and Leupp were full-scale food runs with Rainow Boxes, produce, and gift boxes. Ironically, Dilkon returned to its roots in 2012. Although the Elders still receive gift boxes and home-care products, they elected to return to receiving food certificates of comparable value in lieu of the Rainbow sets. They can use these certificates at their local Basha's grocery and choose those food items that they prefer.
Some additional history of the early years of this food run can be found in this blog.
The following map* shows the Navajo Reservation with particular reference to the location of the food run at Dilkon and the lodging base for this run which is Winslow. You can click on the map to see a larger view.
The food runs at Dilkon were initially conducted at the Church Of The Nazarene, but in more recent years the local Mormon meeting house has generously hosted us.
When we arrive, it's time for the group picture.
The men, who normally have many food boxes to unload and stack, have a relatively easy time here now. For those who are experienced at food runs, this box circle will look quite unusual because of the absence of food boxes and produce. But the gift boxes and home-care products still make for a sizable line.
Once the meal is over the Elders start to depart. Even without food boxes there are still other gift boxes and items to be loaded into their vehicles. With a gift box in hand and his food certificate in his pocket, Virgil Nez is ready to head home.
In the evening we all gather at the Chinese restaurant across the road from our motel.
*This map is adapted from the wonderful Indian Country Map published by the Automobile Club of Southern California. Overlays have been created to show the borders of the Navajo Reservation as well as the food run sites (red) and lodging locations (turquoise) utilized by the food runs. Some of the road information is out of date (the roads to Navajo Mountain and the Big Mountain Food Run sites are now paved. Also, the reservation extends considerably further east into New Mexico than is shown on this map.