Cherokee Nation Enrolls Thousands Of Families Into Nutrition Card Program To Curb Child Hunger

The Cherokee Nation is hoping to curb child hunger this summer by enrolling thousands of families in their nutrition card program.

Sunday, June 9th 2024, 7:16 pm

By: Matt Rahn


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The Cherokee Nation is hoping to curb child hunger this summer by enrolling thousands of families in their nutrition card program.

They're hoping to reach even more kids than in years past following the decision by the state earlier this year to not accept roughly $48 million in federal funding for the program.

The Cherokee Nation says they have about 53,000 people enrolled in the program right now, while this time last year, they had only 13,000.

The Cherokee Nation has offered this program for five years, open to both native and non-native families within its borders, but Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. says the offer is more important this year.

"Let's be clear, the state of Oklahoma abandoned kids who are hungry every summer and the Cherokee Nation and the other tribes did not ... that's the sole reason that every low-income kid who qualifies native or non-native will get some form of fairly modest summer food money," Hoskin Jr. said.

Governor Kevin Stitt's office says the state already provides over $2 billion in hunger assistance for families and doesn't believe another federal program will solve the issue of hunger in Oklahoma.

The program offered by Cherokee Nation is for families with children who qualify for free and reduced meals during the year. It gives $120 per child to be used for fresh and healthy food at grocery stores.

"We think we'll exceed 150,000 this year which we think could set a record, but that's good because there's a lot of need out there."

Several tribes in Oklahoma are working together to reach that number, but child hunger advocate Joe Dorman says while their work has been vital, some Oklahomans are still left out.

"The ones that I worry about are the areas that don't have connections to tribes," Dorman said.

Dorman says while the state turned down the chance to use roughly $48 million to help feed kids this summer, that's a decision they can change for next year.  

"As 2024 concludes we certainly hope that the policymakers at the capitol will look at this problem look at the solution that's being provided and agree to accept those dollars to make sure that hungry kids are being fed in Oklahoma," he says.

Dorman says if you're looking for how you can help, consider donating to one of the several food programs in the state like the Eastern Oklahoma Food Bank that feeds thousands of children and families year-round.

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