By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
One Feather Asst. Editor
CHEROKEE, N.C. – Vending machines have been installed around tribal lands of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) in an effort to improve access to health and wellness supplies. All of the products in the machines are only for EBCI tribal members and are available free of charge.
“Public Health vending machines are a new emerging public health strategy,” said Sheena Kanott Lambert, MPH, EBCI Public Health & Human Services public health director. “The goal of the project is to expand access and reduce barriers to health and wellness supplies for all EBCI community members by providing 24/7 access to vending machines. These machines are cost effective and practical, cost $0 for EBCI tribal members to utilize, and they support our goals in public health which are health promotion, disease prevention, and to protect the EBCI community.”
Lambert added, “Our Public Health vending machines will include a variety of toiletries and hygiene products, feminine care products, safe sex products, first aid supplies, overdose prevention supplies, baby products, and personal protective equipment.”
There are a total of 10 vending machines, and eight have been installed at various locations including:
- Big Cove (Kolanvyi) Community Center, 8765 Big Cove Road, Cherokee, N.C.
- Big Y Community Club & Gym, 2641 Wrights Creek, Cherokee, N.C.
- Peaches Squirrell Sports & Recreation Complex, 1212 Birdtown Road, Cherokee, N.C.
- Qualla Boundary Head Starts & Early Head Start, 897 Acquoni Road, Cherokee, N.C.
- EBCI Public Health & Human Services administration building, 43 John Crowe Hill Road, Cherokee, N.C.
- Yellowhill Activity Center, 1416 Acquoni Road, Cherokee, N.C.
- Snowbird Cornsilk Complex, 60 Snowbird School Road, Robbinsville, N.C.
- Cherokee County Indian Community Club, 300 Airport Road, Marble, N.C.
Two others will be installed at the new Tribal Foods Distribution Center and the Cherokee Food Lion once several connectivity issues are worked out.
“This project is 100 percent funded by the N.C. State Opioid/Substance Use Grant,” said Lambert. “EBCI members are automatically enrolled in the program.”
To use a machine, enter the five numeric part of your EBCI enrollment number, including all zeros, followed by the # sign. Then, just select the number of the product you wish dispensed followed by the # sign.
“We’re going to pilot these 10, and we’re going to see how they do,” said Lambert. “We don’t know. They’re doing good already. These are only for enrolled members.”
Terra Walker Raxter, RN Tsalagi Public Health nurse, noted, “There’s a software program connected with the vending machines so that we have alerts set up to let us know things are getting low and when things expire.”
Lambert said she gave a presentation to the Cherokee Community Club Council in 2022. “What was critically important for us here, at Public Health, is ‘did the community want these?’ For us, as public health professionals, we love the idea – having access, eliminating barriers to access, and expanding access to these items. But, what does the community want? I got a lot of positive feedback from that initial meeting.”
The following items are currently in each of the eight machines: Narcan Nasal Spray, Rapid Response Fentanyl Test Strips, Trojan lubricated condoms, pregnancy test, disposable face masks, hydrocortisone cream, first aid kit, Maxi pad, tampons, Benadryl, Advil, Tylenol, antacid tablets, 2-in-1 Shampoo & Conditioner, Secret Deodorant (travel size), Old Spice Swagger Deodorant (travel size), bottled water (8 oz.), Banana Boat Sunscreen (1 oz.), body wash (1 oz.), bug spray (1 oz.), Chapstick, Purell Hand Sanitizer (1 oz.), adult dental hygiene kit (toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, brush timer), child dental hygiene kit (toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, brush timer), at-home COVID-19 test kit, Pampers Diaper Changing Kit (size 3), DiapaROO Diaper Changing Kit (size 4), and Pampers Diaper Changing Kit (size 5).