Many of us are lucky enough that we do not have to worry about where our next meal will come from. Unfortunately, not everyone is so blessed. That is why Cherokee Nation, Oklahoma food banks and other organizations across the state are building partnerships to address this problem.
October marks the beginning of the annual Feeding Oklahoma Drive, a month-long campaign to support the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma and the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma. Cherokee Nation Businesses is a lead sponsor of this campaign.
Across Oklahoma, about one in six families are food insecure, which means they do not have consistent access to affordable, healthy food. Families with young children are the most likely to be affected by food insecurity. Sadly, we have not yet become a place where everyone has enough to eat on a regular basis.
Parts of the Cherokee Nation see even higher rates of food insecurity than the state average. In some of the counties within Cherokee Nation’s jurisdiction here in northeast Oklahoma, food insecurity affects as many as one in five households. Many Cherokee families, including children and elders, are simply not getting the nutrition they need.
When Oklahomans anywhere struggle to be food secure, it affects all of us. When kids do not get enough healthy food, it’s harder to concentrate at school. When adults are worried about how to feed their families, it’s harder to plan and work for a better future. When elders are struggling with hunger and isolation, it’s harder to pass on their wisdom to the next generations. We miss out on the talents and contributions of hundreds of thousands of Oklahomans when they can’t easily meet these most basic needs.
The Cherokee Nation and the Eastern Oklahoma Food Bank launched a quarterly mobile food pantry at the Cherokee Nation Veterans Center. The pantry provides important relief for Cherokee veterans and their families, whose food budget is too often stretched beyond their means by the end of the month.
In just the past year, Cherokee Nation distributed food to more than 60,000 households and provided tens of thousands of meals at nutrition sites or delivered to elders in their homes. Cherokee Nation is also an essential partner for the Boys and Girls Club to provide meals and snacks to kids before and after school, as well as during the summer. We also work with Cherokee community organizations, supporting their local efforts to address food insecurity.
Many people within Cherokee Nation rely on local food banks when times are tough. During this year’s Feeding Oklahoma Drive, it’s our goal to become a state where no child must go to bed hungry, and for Cherokee Nation to become a place where we all have the healthy foods necessary to live full lives and fulfill our dreams.
Every dollar donated to the Feeding Oklahoma Drive provides the equivalent of four meals. Visit https://www.regionalfoodbank.org/events/feeding-oklahoma-drive to learn how you can donate. Please help us spread the word. Let’s reduce food insecurity in our state.
Chuck Hoskin Jr. is the Principle Chief of the Cherokee Nation.