A new food distribution center opened in Collinsville for members of the Cherokee Nation Tuesday morning.
While it is called a distribution center, tribal officials say it is more like a grocery store for Cherokee Nation citizens who qualify for family assistance.
The tribe says this means many families won't have to drive as far to get the food they need.
"With the Cherokee putting this in, it made it convenient, less gas," said shopper Janet Freeny.
Janet is caring for four grandchildren, and with her husband on disability, she's thankful this store is closer than where she used to shop, in Nowata.
"It was 35 to 45 minutes to get to Nowata, and then back, the same amount of time. And it was just like a whole morning spent doing this," Freeny said.
The 5,500 square-foot facility is set up like a supermarket with cereal, canned goods, fresh produce and large refrigerators on different aisles.
Officials say the market-like design at 1101 North 12th Street in Collinsville is more dignified and they hope to build more like it.
And Cherokee Principal Chief Bill John Baker thinks it's a more dignified way to shop, better that the alternative tailgate sites, where people get boxed food out of the back of a truck.
"They get to pick and choose whether they want fruits or vegetables, or lean meats, or whatever they want," Baker said.
The Cherokee Nation said food distribution centers like this, along with the tailgate sites, served about 100 thousand people last year. But with the new building being the closest one like it to Tulsa, they're expecting at least 300 families a month.
This is one of seven distribution sites across the Cherokee Nation. Officials say there are still several locations called tailgate sites, where food is handed out to tribal members from the back of a truck.
The Collinsville location is open Tuesday and Thursday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.