Maniilaq Association has operated the Hunter Support Program under Cyrus Harris since 1993. The Hunter Support Program provides supplemental fish and game to elders aged sixty and over. Through the Hunter Support agreement, the program also provides support funds for tribal governments to enable local volunteers to purchase ammunition, gas, and oil to hunt for village elders who are no longer able to harvest traditional foods on their own.
In 2015, Maniilaq Association’s Hunter Support Program sought to expand the program and established a traditional food donation center and food storage facility called the Siġḷauq. Siġḷauq is Iñupiaq for underground cold storage cache or ice cellar. The Siġḷauq serves as a reliable supplier of traditional foods for Utuqqanaat Inaat and social events in Kotzebue, Alaska. As a food donation center, legally harvested subsistence resources may be donated to the Siġḷauq, and in turn, these foods are later delivered to the food service kitchen of Utuqqanaat Inaat or a social event. As a food storage facility, donated traditional foods may be butchered, packaged and then cold held prior to distribution.
The primary customers served by the Siġḷauq are the resident elders of Utuqqanaat Inaat who are considered a highly susceptible population and require the highest standards of food handling. The availability of safe traditional foods may promote healthier living, prevent or slow unintentional weight loss, and modify distressing behaviors through cultural reinforcement and identity. Traditional food approved for distribution to Utuqqanaat Inaat includes moose, caribou, muskox, fish, waterfowl, and wild berries. All other traditional food items are restricted until safe source determinations may be made in partnership with the State of Alaska.
When the Siġḷauq supports social events such as Niqipiaq or other events, it is considered an exempt activity and not subject to the Alaska Food Code. This exemption allows for the Siġḷauq to accept, store, and distribute a wide variety of donated traditional foods beyond the list approved for Utuqqanaat Inaat.
The Siġḷauq is permitted by the State of Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC) as an Other Food Establishment (Permit #: 324100051). As such, regulatory inspection and oversight of the facility is provided by ADEC with authorization from the Alaska Food Code (18 AAC 31). Donations of traditional wild game meat, seafood, plants, and other foods to institutions or non-profit programs are authorized by the State of Alaska under 18 AAC 31.200(b)(4).