Grant Provides Students with Summer Nutrition

February 8, 2012

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TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation recently received a two-year grant from the United States Department of Agriculture to provide summer nutrition cards to children who currently receive free or reduced-price school lunches.

The Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer for Children project is a trial demonstration to monitor and provide nutritious food to children during the summer months when school meals are not available.

“We’ve all known children that only get meals at school because the family just doesn’t have the budget for it,” said Brenda Carter, Cherokee Nation’s Women, Infants and Children director. “The USDA’s goal is to figure out how they can provide nutritional food to children in the summer as well.”

The project, which is coordinated by Cherokee Nation WIC, directly provides parents and caregivers of 5,000 children with summer nutrition cards to purchase WIC-approved foods. Using WIC’s electronic smartcard system, each card is embedded with a household data profile and will automatically receive $60 per month for three months for each eligible child living in the house.

The 5,000 participants will be randomly selected from Adair, Cherokee, Delaware, Mayes and Sequoyah counties from the approximately 26,000 children in kindergarten through 12th grade who are currently eligible to receive free or reduced-price school lunches. Participating schools will send letters of consent to parents and caregivers for permission to participate in the demonstration.

Carter said she hopes to collect a database of at least 10,000 eligible students who would like to participate in the summer program.

The pool of participants will be forwarded to a contracted service that will randomly select the 5,000 children to receive summer nutrition benefits.

Parents and caregivers will be notified by WIC if they are chosen and will receive the smartcards during a brief training session that will teach participants how to use the card at more than 60 Cherokee Nation WIC-approved grocery stores located throughout the tribe’s jurisdiction.

“It’s not just the participants who are going to benefit from this, it’s also the community,” said Carter. “We’re going to give close to $1 million in food benefits that will be distributed to local grocery stores.”

Cherokee Nation WIC provides women and children with quality nutrition and breastfeeding education, counseling, nutritious foods, breast pumps, and referrals to health and social services. For more information about the Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer for Children demonstration contact Sherrie Perry, Summer Electronic Benefit director, at 918-453-5257.
Cherokee Nation News Release

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