VINITA, Okla. — In an effort to provide healthy food to the tribe’s most vulnerable citizens, the Cherokee Nation has opened a food distribution center in Vinita.

In the fiscal year 2022, more than 36,000 American Indian households, including more than 68,000 individuals, shopped at Cherokee Nation food distribution centers in Collinsville, Jay, Nowata, Salina, Sallisaw, Stilwell and Tahlequah.

The food distribution program was founded in 1984 and is funded through the USDA and provides eligible members of federally recognized tribes residing in the Cherokee Nation Reservation with nutritious foods including fruits, vegetables, proteins, dairy and traditional foods in a grocery-store-type setting.

“When Cherokee Nation first started its food distribution program with the USDA they were located in just a few of our areas in the Cherokee Nation reservation and in Vinita families would have to drive long distances or pick up food from a ‘tailgate site’ with limited options,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. in a prepared statement.

“This new Vinita food distribution center is an essential step in ensuring that Cherokee Nation is meeting the basic healthy food needs for tribal citizens and members of federally recognized tribes,” Hoskin said.

“The opening of our Vinita Distribution Center means that more tribal families can now have access to fully stocked shelves and wider food selections to put on their dinner tables,” said Victoria Vazquez, Deputy Speaker of the Council.

The 6,000-square-foot building will also house a Career Services satellite office.  Cherokee Nation Career Services include different types of training, alternative education/GED classes, youth employment, the Coming Home Re-Entry Program, Talking Leaves Job Corps admissions/placement, the dislocated workers program and the Tribal Employment Rights Office.

The distribution center was built with  the tribe’s Respond, Recover, Rebuild ARPA funds during COVID-19.

For more information on the Cherokee Nation Food Distribution Program and eligibility, please call 1-800-865-4462; for Career Services 918-453-5555 or visit cherokee.org.