TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – 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 Cherokee Nation’s Disaster Household Distribution plan was recently approved by the USDA and is allowing the tribe to help more Cherokee elders keep their pantries full 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. 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,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “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 food resources, the tribe had already distributed food packages to more than 18,000 Cherokees in need through emergency tribal funds, supplies from Cherokee Nation casinos, and produce donations from Walmart. The Cherokee Nation Food Distribution Program administered by the tribe’s Human Services department is on track to serve more than 22,000 individuals in the months of March and April.
The Cherokee Nation 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 Principal 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, Cherokee Nation will distribute the additional food packages to elders who have not previously received a food package during the Cherokee Nation’s 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 also provide additional food packages to elders who have a larger household size. Each food package will contain a variety of nonperishable food items such as canned meats, cereal, pasta, rice, soup, canned vegetables, canned fruits and more.
Elders who are 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.