By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) is one of a handful of federally recognized tribes to receive a USDA Disaster Household Distribution (DHD) authorization for its Tribal Food Distribution program. The Tribe received notice of such from the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) on the afternoon of Monday, April 14. (Download program flyer here)
“We are so proud of the Tribal Food Distribution Team working hard to submit the request for Disaster Household Distribution for our community,” said Vickie Bradley, EBCI Secretary of Public Health and Human Services (PHHS). “Their hard work and commitment to expand capacity to serve the community during this difficult time is commendable.”
Information from FNS states that they can approve requests under a Presidential Declaration of a National Emergency “for targeted areas to meet specific needs when traditional channels of food are unavailable and not being replenished on a regular basis”. It further states, “DHD provides boxed foods to households using existing inventories of USDA-purchased foods.”
The food distribution will begin Wednesday, April 15. Information from the EBCI Tribal Food Distribution Program states, “Any household that may be suffering significant economic losses due to layoffs, furloughs, or significant food challenges due to COVID-19 may receive emergency disaster food benefits.”
Requirements to qualify, according to the program, include:
* Must not currently be receiving benefits from Tribal Food Distribution Program
* Must not currently be receiving SNAP (Food Stamp) benefits
* Must obtain an appointment to apply to the Tribal Food Distribution Program
Frank Dunn, EBCI Tribal Food Distribution Program manager, said they are scheduling around 25 per day. “As Tribal Foods, our number one priority is to serve our participants that are already qualified for commodity foods. Beyond that, we are serving this Disaster Household Distribution package. It is not the full commodity foods. It is meant as a supplement to help. People who are already receiving the commodity foods or the food stamps will not be eligible for this Disaster Program.”
Dunn said the following foods will be provided in the DHD boxes: two cans of meat, one juice, two pastas or rice, two milks, one flour, four cans of vegetables, two cans of dried fruit, one cereal, and one butter. “The juice, cereal, and meat are all contingent on what we have available once we serve our main participants.”
Dunn added, “For the next 30 days, we are doing it daily. As people call, we are scheduling them, around 25 on top of what we already serve.”
He said that due to recent business closures and furloughs, his program has seen a 10 percent increase in participation in recent weeks. Dunn noted that his program ordered extra food at the beginning of the COVID-19 situation. “We planned ahead and ordered extra food so we are ready for this to be able to assist our community members.”
To contact the Tribal Food Distribution Program to set up an appointment for the DHD program or for more information on the program in general, call 359-9751.