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Chickasaw Nation partners with PepsiCo and others to address food insecurity during COVID-19

 


A collaboration between the Chickasaw Nation and PepsiCo Foundation’s Food for Good program is one example of local partnerships developed to meet increased food insecurity as a result of the coronavitus pandemic.

PepsiCo Foundation’s Food for Good program and the Chickasaw Nation Impa’chi Kids Meal Program have delivered a total of 12,480 meals within Chickasaw Country in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This program is one more example of businesses, organizations, government agencies and others working together to help ensure all Oklahomans have the food they need during these unprecedented times. Chickasaw Nation efforts have also included cooperation with Walmart (serving fresh produce to more than 2,000 families in Ada and Tishomingo), the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma USDA Farmers to Families project (offering hundreds of food boxes to Chickasaws and community members in places like Marietta and Purcell, with more to come) as well as Share Our Strength (shipping meals directly to food insecure children who don’t live near food sites).

These efforts are in addition to the longstanding food programs the Chickasaw Nation regularly offers, such as the Summer EBT for Children Program, the GetFresh! Nutrition Program, the Food Distribution Program, the Farmers’ Market programs, the Farm to School Program, the WIC Supplemental Nutrition Program, the Packed Promise program and the Impa’chi Kids Meal Program. These programs have continued to address food issues during the pandemic, Impa’chi in particular serving drive-thru meals at 30 locations throughout the Chickasaw Nation this summer.

“The rapid spread of COVID-19 has exacerbated food insecurity among schoolchildren across the country – 1 billion meals have been missed by students as a result of school closures and that number continues to grow,” said Doug Hargis, National Operations and Sales Manager of Food for Good at PepsiCo.

The closing of school districts and orders to shelter in place has led to a very unique and never before seen set of circumstances, Hargis said. Even more issues are at play in rural environments where there may not be ready access to a local food program, and transportation can be an issue.

“No one can predict when or how this will end or what school will look like in the fall, but we’re long- term partners of the Chickasaw Nation. Food for Good has been active in the Chickasaw Nation for years, and we are proud to continue our support by delivering nutritious meals to Chickasaw children when they need them the most,” Hargis said.

Food for Good reached out to the Chickasaw Nation Impa’chi Kids Meal program wanting to bolster its COVID-19 crisis food assistance.

Employees with Chickasaw Nation Nutrition Services worked with PepsiCo’s Food for Good to locate children who might most need assistance and invite their families to participate.

Invitations were sent to families of children not already receiving meal assistance through the Chickasaw Nation Summer EBT for Children program and Packed Promise program – both of which secure meals for students who receive free or reduced school lunches. This resulted in PepsiCo’s donations reaching rural Chickasaw children who were eligible, but not yet participating in Chickasaw Nation food security programs.

“The Chickasaw Nation is very appreciative of the donation from the PepsiCo Foundation,” Katrina Lewis, community nutrition manager, said. “Chickasaw Nation has been partnering with PepsiCo for over 10 years through our summer food program. We are extremely thankful to be able to provide assistance to our Chickasaw families during this very difficult time.”

A number of families reached out to express their gratitude, according to Rebecca Chandler, executive officer of Chickasaw Nation Nutrition Services.

She said their comments touched on the difficulties of living far away from schools and lunch offerings, as well as an appreciation for how much food was included in each box.

Boxes included items such as dried fruit, nuts, meat, dairy, various cereals, juice, bread and crackers.

These developments within the Chickasaw Nation are one part of a bigger humanitarian effort from the PepsiCo Foundation, which has committed over $50 million to relieve the impact of COVID-19 worldwide by providing more than 50 million nutritious meals.

About the Chickasaw Nation Impa’chi Kids Meal Program

The new Chickasaw Nation Impa’chi Kids Meal program combines the services previously offered under the summer food service program and the child and adult care food program.

The Impa’chi program provides meals year-round at several locations throughout the Chickasaw Nation. These meals are offered at no cost and all children ages 1-18 are encouraged to visit a site to participate.

Food sites can be found throughout the Chickasaw Nation, including the Chickasaw Nation Medical Center, Chickasaw Nation Health Clinics, Chickasaw Nation WIC Clinics, Nutrition Centers, local public libraries, churches and community centers.

For more information, visit Chickasaw.net/SummerFood or call (580) 310-5764.

 

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