Food Distribution gets perfect USDA score
Cherokee Nation Food Distribution Manager Leah Duncan and employee David HorseChief restock shelves at the Food Distribution Center in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. COURTESY
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation’s Food Distribution program received its first perfect score, with no findings, after a recent U.S. Department of Agriculture Management Evaluation.
“To be awarded a perfect score is already a big accomplishment for our team, but to be told that we made history, that was a huge credit to the program,” Jennifer Kirby, Family Assistance interim director, said. “The USDA Management Evaluation is an extensive process where they examine many aspects of the operational processes. It takes weeks to prepare for a visit of this nature.”
During the process, USDA officials review records for fiscal year 2017 in more than 10 areas of management and daily operations.
“I wanted to view this as a learning experience by identifying what areas we do well in and what areas we may need to improve in,” said Food Distribution Manager Leah Duncan. “To hear USDA announce that we had made history by receiving our first perfect score was absolutely overwhelming.”
In FY 2017, the tribe’s Food Distribution program served 62,173 households from seven distribution centers in the tribe’s jurisdiction, making it one of the largest food distribution programs in Indian Country.
“There are a lot of components to administering food distribution programs in Indian Country, and it’s great to see such a nice running program within the Cherokee Nation,” USDA Senior Program Specialist Chris Hennelly said.
Human Services operates the Food Distribution program to ensure citizens of federally recognized tribes who are income eligible and live within the tribe’s jurisdiction have access to healthy foods. The tribe maintains seven self-serve food stores that resemble public grocery stores in Tahlequah, Stilwell, Sallisaw, Salina, Jay, Collinsville and Nowata.
For more information, call 1-800-865-4462.