TAHLEQUAH, Okla. (KFOR) – In an effort to help elderly and disabled members of the tribe, the Cherokee Nation has been delivering thousands of food packages during the coronavirus pandemic.
Officials say the Cherokee Nation used more than $350,000 in emergency funds to purchase the food items, and also cleared the shelves of casino pantries to help more than 4,000 elderly and disabled Cherokee citizens.
“As the COVID-19 virus makes its way to the Cherokee Nation, it is our top priority to ensure our citizens are taken care of, especially the more vulnerable population such as our elders and the disabled. With this emergency food for elders project that we established with our emergency funds, we can ensure food is not a worry for them,” said Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin, Jr. “We have already taken several steps to keep our community safe and we will continue to work on additional ways to make a difference. As a community, we will get through this challenging time together.”
Officials say volunteers are trained on food handling safety before they are allowed to delivery or assemble food packages.
“One of the best things we can do right now to help people is to address food security. We are trying to take all the action we can within our financial resources and trying to mitigate the circumstance that some may be faced with, like where they will be getting their next meal,” said Deputy Principal Chief Bryan Warner. “As Cherokees, we are always coming together to help one another, and I can’t say enough to the volunteers and the people who have been on the frontlines and behind the scenes, our community organizations, and our food distribution sites that continue to help people during tough times like this.”
So far, the tribe has distributed more than 1,500 food packages such as canned and dry food items, as well as perishable foods like fresh fruits throughout the 14 counties. Each food package is designed to feed about three people for three weeks.
The Cherokee Nation has established the Cherokee Elder Food Hotline at 918-316-1670. Callers should be sure to have elders’ names, phone numbers and addresses when calling.