CN gets more USDA food supplies for Cherokee elders

BY STAFF REPORTS
05/01/2020 08:30 AM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Cherokee Nation employee volunteers distribute boxes of food to elders as part of the tribe’s effort to help Cherokee elders fight food insecurities during the COVID-19 pandemic. COURTESY
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Nation is receiving additional food supplies to help feed 5,000 more Cherokee elders thanks to a program provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 

The USDA recently approved the tribe’s Disaster Household Distribution plan and is allowing the tribe to provide food to more elders while they stay at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“With the help of community organizations around northeast Oklahoma, we have conducted the largest emergency food distribution in Cherokee history as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “With these additional resources from the USDA, addressing food insecurity will continue to be a top priority as we provide food to 5,000 more Cherokee elders. We appreciate the USDA’s help to ensure our most vulnerable citizens can continue to social-distance as we work to stop the spread of COVID-19.” 

Before the USDA’s approval of additional emergency foods, the tribe had distributed food to more than 18,000 Cherokees in need via emergency tribal funds, supplies from CN-owned casinos and produce donations from Walmart. CN Food Distribution, administered by the tribe’s Human Services, was on track to serve more than 22,000 individuals in March and April. 

The CN is one of several federally recognized tribes to be approved to use USDA foods from the Food Distribution Program on Indian reservations.  

“The most important way for our elders to stay safe is to stay home. While many people can make trips to the grocery store when they need to, our elders can’t, and they shouldn’t. We want them to avoid exposure to this virus as much as possible,” said Deputy Chief Bryan Warner. “With the additional USDA foods, we can ensure more of our elders are taken care of and that they have enough food during these difficult times.” 

Over the next 30 days, the CN will distribute the additional food packages to elders who have not previously received a food package during its COVID-19 response efforts. 

The additional food packages from the USDA are designed for a household of one or two members, but the tribe can provide additional food packages to elders who have a larger household. Each food package contains various nonperishable food items including canned meats, cereal, pasta, rice, soup, canned vegetables and canned fruits. 

Elders in need of food supplies can call the Cherokee Elder Food Hotline at 918-316-1670. Callers will need to provide the elder’s name, phone number and address.

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