The Chickasaw Nation Farmers to Families food distribution events have been a success. In collaboration with the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, the Chickasaw Nation provided more than 375,000 pounds of food to local community members. Nearly 8,500 families have been served during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The cities and towns of Purcell, Marietta, Kingston, Chickasha, Pauls Valley, Terral, Duncan, Ardmore, Colbert, Coalgate, Sulphur, Ada and Tishomingo have received services since May.
According to Joy Standridge, Chickasaw Nation Nutrition Services Deputy Director, the program helped more than the many families to whom food was provided. It has also helped producers and food distributors during COVID-19.
“This project is designed to help provide relief to the food supply chain devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Standridge said. “This initiative provides relief to farmers and distributors who lost demand for their food products. It provides relief to food banks and other nonprofits by making sure the products are made available already packed in boxes, which reduces the number of volunteers needed to work each event.”
Farmers to Families Food
As part of the Coronavirus Farm Assistance Program, it was announced April 17 that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) would be exercising authority under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to purchase and distribute agricultural products to those in need.
USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) partnered with national, regional and local suppliers, whose workforce has been significantly impacted by the closure of restaurants, hotels and other food service businesses, and purchased fresh produce, dairy and meat products that were distributed to those seeking help.
The federal program purchased $461 million in fresh fruits and vegetables, $317 million in a variety of dairy products, $258 million in meat products and $175 million in a combination box of fresh produce, dairy or meat products nationally, according to Standridge.
Suppliers packaged these products totaling $1.2 billion into family-sized boxes, then transported them to food banks, community and faith- based organizations, and other nonprofits serving Americans in need.
At the food distribution event in Purcell, families received a 25-pound box of fresh produce containing items such as apples, oranges, carrots, tomatoes, onions, potatoes and dried beans. Families also received a 10-pound box of protein containing frozen chicken. Depending on inventory of food boxes, regional distributors and local availability, the food box contents varied from location to location.
Purcell resident Sandra Roberts voiced admiration to have this resource offered to the public.
“It means everything to have this available to the community,” Roberts said. “My husband and I are on a fixed income. It can be hard to get by, to make ends meet. We are glad friends told us to come out today to get this food.”